LONG have a good diplomatic relationship, the United States and the Philippines are continuously finding ways to enhance such link, including through sports, particularly basketball.
Recently, the US Embassy partnered with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Alaska Milk in conducting basketball clinics in Manila and Davao for children 10 to 15 years old.
The clinics, organizers said, were designed to promote youth and sports development as well as foster international relations between the two countries.
US sports envoys and National Basketball Association and WNBA stars Cherokee Parks and Alana Beard headed the clinics were they got to share their basketball knowledge to the kids and other valuable life lessons that participants could take cue from even beyond the sport.
The US Embassy said basketball is something that is very close to the hearts of both Americans and Filipinos and a good platform to bring the two together.
“Americans are crazy about basketball and it is something it shares with the Filipinos. Everywhere we go here there is a basketball court set up and there is really a connection through it between the two countries,” said Jeanie M. Duwan, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer of the American Embassy Manila, in an interview with BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the clinics held at the Rizal Memorial Basketball Stadium on Oct. 2.
“And the beauty of it all is that there are no boundaries here. Regardless of economic background, language you speak, it is something where we can get together, enjoy and learn,” she added while also saying that the PSC and Alaska had been good partners in seeing the program through.
Ms. Duwan went on to say that they, along with their local partners, see a lot of value in using sports as an avenue to learn from one another.
“This really goes two ways. I think it’s really effective. It lives on. This is something really valuable and important to do,” she said.
For former NBA player Parks, his experience as a sports envoy for the United States meant a lot to him and that he hopes to continue doing such in the future.
“This is something I welcome doing again. It’s different when you come here with a team and when you come as an individual. I love my country and it’s an honor to represent it the best way I can,” Mr. Parks, who played eight years in the NBA, said in a separate interview.
The 12th pick in the 1995 NBA Rookie Draft also said that he shares the end game that such programs have and very much pushing for them.
“This really brings countries together which have long relations. It is something that is representative of what the US and Philippines are as countries and I’m very happy to be part of it,” he said.
Adding, “The Philippines is a wonderful country, with very kind, warm and polite people. It means a lot to be here finally. Back in the States, I have met and played with a lot of Filipinos and that was my first introduction to the Philippines and the basketball culture here. To experience these firsthand and share from I end as well is truly an experience.”
Seeing the Philippines as a valuable partner, Ms. Duwan said they are committed to continuing to cultivate the long-standing partnership with other programs besides sports-based ones down the line. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo