For Zamboanga athletes, crisis is no obstacle to Palaro glory
LAGUNA, Philippines—The Zamboanga Crisis that happened last September 2013 hasn’t burned down the determination of the athletes competing at this year’s Palarong Pambansa.
However, their journey to Laguna has been far from smooth-sailing.
According to Coach Elsa Opinyon of the ZPRAA athletics division, all members of the region’s teams in Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, and some parts of Talon-Talon had to evacuate, making practice an afterthought.
Despite the efforts of the local government to provide aid for the residents, it wasn’t enough to cover all their needs.
After three weeks of horrifying gunshots and terrible killings, the crisis finally ended but the trouble didn’t stop there. Right after the event in Zamboanga, Typhoon Yolanda caused destruction to the city leaving Region IX more vulnerable and unable to focus on Palaro.
The actual practices started on April 6, 2014 and the ZPRAA athletes were taken to Dipolog to train.
Most of the Zamboanga Peninsula players weren’t drastically affected by the crisis; however, Coach Elsa said that there was a delegate from the regional meet that didn’t qualify for Palarong Pambansa.
“Masyadong naapektuhan yung pamilya nya sa nangyaring crisis sa amin [Zamboangga] kaya hindi na siya pinatuloy sa Palaro”, shared the coach.
(His family were greatly affected by the crisis in Zamboanga so he was asked to not push through the Palaro)
Kiezl Kyla Diaz, the region’s representative for secondary women tennis division, said the Zamboanga crisis brought harm and fear inside their city. Although she was lucky enough to live in a place far from the affected areas, the tennis player wasn’t immune to the aftermath of the crisis.
For the second timer, this year’s Palaro was a lot harder. Few venues were available for training and the athletes needed to improvise so they could follow the schedule. This cost them time to actually prepare for the game.
“Mahirap kasi nagkulang kami sa oras, hindi kami masyadong nakapagpractice”, worried Kiezl.
(It was hard because we didn’t have enough time to practice)
Last year, the young player didn’t make it to the finals but this doesn’t discourage Kiezl despite the struggles she, along with her co-athletes, were facing. She believes that the Zambo athletes are well-disciplined, motivated, and talented in their own way.
“Kahit may problema kaming naranasan patuloy pa kaming magsisikap para makalaro ng ayos. Wala naman sa oras ng practice yan dahil naniniwala kami sa kakayahan namin bilang isang atleta”
(Even if we’re experiencing a lot of problems, we continuously strive to improve our game. It’s not about how long you’ve been practicing; we believe in our abilities as athletes) - Rappler.com