Empowering Women Through Sports

VolleyballLast Saturday, I attended one of the most intense games in Philippine volleyball history. It was the first game of the UAAP women’s volleyball finals against two rival schools, De La Salle University and Ateneo De Manila University. More than 17,000 people were said to have witnessed this exhibition of grace under pressure, determination, fearlessness and will of heart. The Lady Archers stunned the crowd as they inched their way to a come from behind victory, winning the third, fourth and fifth set.

If there are lessons to be learned in this game, it isn’t just on how to score a point. One of the things I realized is that sports can definitely uplift the hearts of people, and women in sports have a great power to inspire the young to be excellent in their own field as well as graceful in times of defeat.

In most developing countries, young girls and women continue to search for avenues in which they can be active. Women are searching for how and where they can share talents and creativity. Some would run for student council, take-part time jobs, join a church choir or engage in sports activities. In whatever choice they make, women are challenged to create good social bonds and strengthen them through their efforts as well as commitment they show.

Philippine sports, particularly volleyball is still a growing industry. Yet, with the recent collegiate activities, women are able to find new role models, someone that will spark the hope and passion of many. Other ladies are able to view how to fight in solidarity to achieve a goal. There is no “I” in team work!

Women in sports are more than just athletes striving for the gold. They are teachers for the youth in how to promote human dignity and create peace in the playing field. In volleyball, every time you spike and serve hard, you challenge your opponent because you know how excellent they are. You treat them as people of equal skill and of worth.  At the end of each game, you shake the hand of your adversary as a sign of gratitude for a great game and recognition of their character. You sing the song of your Alma Mater with a closed fist in the air as an indication of pride and joy to the school community that has shaped and supported you during the fight. You are humble in victory as you bow down to the crowd and your opponent. Even in losing there is still winning. For in putting your best foot forward, you are sharing your love and passion for the sport to others and with this, you have served as a role model to many on how to be excellent in your craft.

Just like in any development field, one would want to do the same thing. You push your limits and see what changes you can create because you know how important that action is and it can take you to greater heights amidst difficult situations. Women are creative in executing strategies and planning for the future. The women of Asia today are not only seen as homemakers but more importantly they are recognized as global shapers.

I definitely can’t wait to see more women join sports. I can’t wait to become a witness again to what women can do in the volleyball court and in the game of life!

By Christine Violago, Regional Director, WYA Asia Pacific.