US, Philip­pines en­hanc­ing diplo­matic con­nec­tion through bas­ket­ball

Business World - - World Sports - Michael An­gelo S. Murillo

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. —

FOR­MER NBA PLAYER Cherokee Parks (in right photo) was part of the bas­ket­ball clinics re­cently or­ga­nized lo­cally by the US Em­bassy, Philip­pine Sports Com­mis­sion, and Alaska Milk. In left photo are the Davao boys who par­tic­i­pate in the said bas­ket­ball drills.


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