Last May 27 to June 5, the Madaris Volunteers Program (MVP) conducted its Madaris Youth Sports Leadership Program to fifty (50) active JHS students of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The MYSLP was a 6-day online camp distributed in 3 days for 2 weeks and in partnership with XMPLR, a sports marketing organization comprised of seasoned sports marketing professionals and former athletes who aim to make a positive contribution to society through sports. Furthermore, the organization focused on the promotion of sports and leadership among the youth and is creatively appropriated in the context of the pandemic.

Started in 2016, the Madaris Leadership Program is an annual series of seminar workshops that aim to empower youth leaders from the MVP’s partner Madaris. The first MLP focused on compassionate leadership in the context of the Bangsamoro struggle. In its second year, the MLP with its theme Courage, Compassion, Connection – A Leadership Training for Young Mindanawon Leaders was held last 2018 at the Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City catering to students and teachers from Islamic and Catholic schools who wanted to learn more about their leadership skills, enhance their interpersonal relationships, and encourage interreligious dialogue.

This year, the MLP (now named as MYSLP) gathered student leaders from the MVP partner schools and Catholic schools online, shared experiences of leadership in sports, and formed relationships/networks. The MYSLP also developed their self-awareness and capabilities as leaders in their communities, cultivated their capacity to lead, collaborate, set goals, and facilitated dialogue with their peers and communities; as well enabled/equipped them with skills to execute mini-projects. It is the primary objective of the MYSLP to build core memories among the target participants. This year’s MYSLP was funded by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).

On its Day 0, the MVP started welcoming the participants via Zoom online conference. Twelve (12) Madaris and institutions across the Bangsamoro Region and neighboring communities actively participated in the opening day of MYSLP namely: Al-Azharie Academy, Amos Educare, Dar Al-Uloom Wal Hikmah, Cotabato City National High School, Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College, Hadji Baganian Institute, Ibn Taimiyah Foundation Academy, Markaz Al-Huzaim, Inc., Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy Foundation College, Ateneo de Zamboanga (JHS), Claret School of Lamitan, and Notre Dame of Bongao. The participants beautifully expressed their thoughts and expectations about the program as well as their hopes and interests in the lively world of sports.

Day 1 session introduced Ms. Mona Maghanoy and Ms. Meggie Ochoa as the main speakers. The guest speakers reflectively discussed to the participating students the importance of knowing one’s personality and growth which they creatively appropriated in the context of sportsmanship and leadership. The participants were given a time to digest their learning through an online activity and a chance to impart their thoughts in small group sharing and generously shared it to the other participants through a big group sharing. Hearing their stories, everyone was amazed of the participants’ dedication for self-growth and it was visible in their lively participation that they were inspired by the speakers’ wonderful thoughts.

The second day of Madaris Youth Sports Leadership Program was blessed by the presence of Rubilen Amit and Japoy Lizardo as the guest speakers. They beautifully shared their life’s journey as athletes and champions. Accompanied by their reflective insights, they encouraged the participants to persevere in their dreams in life assuring that despite the many challenges and setbacks, these experiences would ultimately mold them as champions in life.

Participants of the MYSLP learned more from the Day 3 guest speakers namely, Coach Noli Ayo and Geli Bulaong. Participants and facilitators were emotional as Coach Noli and Geli shared their stories of struggles and success. A series of reflections, grounded in their experiences, touched the hearts of the participants and facilitators. Indeed, the event was more than just a building up of character but is also a formation of the heart.

On the fourth day, Mary Joy Tabal-Oly and Hidilyn Diaz shared their experiences as an athlete and how self-motivation, the value of perspective and team work can lead to achieving one’s goal. Another speaker, Kate Danielle Kuan shared how social media can be used to create impact and that it is ourselves who can make a difference. The participants and facilitators creatively presented and discussed their projects for the upcoming culmination program of the MYSLP.  Students were very excited to showcase their projects as they believe it would be beneficial to the Bangsamoro people most especially in this time of the pandemic.

On the following day, Kiefer Ravena and Rose Lanticse shared with the participants some key steps on how to create a positive attitude towards success. They reflectively discussed the necessity of challenges and problems as steppingstones. Also, they acknowledged the need to build a support system of friends where they “can work together, connect, and build that network to push for progress, inclusivity, and safeguarding.” Mr. Robbie de Vera further shared some key points of knowing oneself and purpose by giving us three tips: “Start with Why”, “Less is More”, and “Tell a Story”

The six and the last day of online program was jam-packed with learning, insights and reflections from the guest speakers, facilitators, and participants. Participants from different madaris and Catholic institutions were able to exercise team work and leadership as they formulate sports-related programs and projects for the advancement of the Bangsamoro communities. In turns, the participants proudly showcased their team project proposal and were evaluated by the executive panelists namely, Chairperson Nhoa Caludtiag of the Bangsamoro Sports Commission and Ms. Ada Milby, President of PRFU together with Mr. Vinci Bueza, the Madaris Volunteer Program’s Lead Coordinator, and Mr. Robbie De Vera, the XMPLR’s Chief Sports Advocate.

The Madaris Volunteer Program – true to its commitment of promoting peacebuilding through education – enkindled the burning spirit of sportsmanship and sports leadership among the Bangsamoro youth that will, in a way, be an avenue for further advancing the shared goal and advocacy of promoting peace, unity, and solidarity among the Bangsamoro people and beyond.

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