EAGA sports: opening lines for easier reg’l cooperation
DAVAO CITY – Sports through friendship games in the BIMP- East ASEAN Growth
Area is opening links for easier economic cooperation in the region, Leon
Montemayor, BIMP EAGA Sports Council chair said.
Montemayor said that with limited resources, the sports councils from the
four-nation sub-regional economic grouping, pursues friendship games to help
build confidence among young people, bridge cultural differences, and hasten
the inflow of economic and tourism cooperation.
He told MindaNews Sunday that sports events promote friendship and
understanding, which could precede or go side by side with more serious talks
for consolidation.Montemayor presided over the Ministerial Sports Meeting of the BIMP-EAGA
Sports Council, which is composed of the heads of the various sports councils
of the four-member countries in the growth area.
The group decided to hold the next BIMP EAGA Friendship Games, a biennial
event, in Brunei next year.
He said the sports council is looking at a proposal of the Brunei government
for a youth exchange study program among the member countries as an initiative
to forget closer ties, apart from the Games.
The BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games was conceived in 1995 as a venue for sports
development, as well as educational and cultural exchange among athletes from
the four countries.
Since it promotes friendship, Montemayor said the event featuers mostly
non-contact sports like swimming, athletics, sepak takraw and lawn tennis.
Montemayor said, however, they have included traditional Malay martial arts,
He said the choice of events depends on the limited budget available for the
athletes’ transportation and hosting needs.
Montemayor said apart from fellowship and inter-cultural understanding, the
Friendship Games has also become a stepping stone for athletes from EAGA’s
focus areas. He said since competing in the games, many of the players now
also compete in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and even in the Asiad.
He said the games have provided opportunity for the athletes in EAGA’s less
exposed focus areas to compete with athletes from other countries.
Bukidnon-based runner Crifrankreadil Indapan, 21, who won the premier
10-kilometer run at the First BIMP EAGA Marathon on April 1 here, said he
valued the experience to be with other athletes. He said he did not only
compete, but also befriended some of 12 foreign athletes who joined the event.
“It gave me a chance to know the culture of these countries,” he said.
Montemayor admitted that though they do not have closely coordinated
activities with the economic and tourism players in the region. But he said
BIMP sports are part of the overall goals for regional cooperation.
Susannah Liaw, permanent Secretary of Sabah, Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and
Sports and chair of the Sabah Sports Council, said sports tourism around the
region could be an offshoot of the games.
But she said sports development in the region is still at an infancy stage
following an interruption brought by the Asian financial crisis in 1997.
She said through sports, regional cooperation takes a new pace as it gives
more reason to come together. “With the friendship games, we strengthen
similarities and celebrate differences,” she said.
Montemayor said when different peoples build friendships through sports and
promote understanding; it is easier to gain trust and confidence and establish
But he said problems with funding hounded the games so they try to make early
preparations so participating local governments, who foot most of the
athletes’ bills, can prepare.
The BIMP-EAGA includes Brunei Darussalam (whole area), Indonesia (the
provinces of North Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Maluku, Irian
Jaya, South and Central Kalimantan, Southeast and Central Sulawesi, Southeast
and South Sulawesi), Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan), and Philippines
(Mindanao and Palawan).
Davao City hosted the BIMP EAGA Sports Council meeting last week with the
First BIMP EAGA Marathon as a sideline event. The marathon event will become
permanent and will be held a year before the Friendship Games. (Walter I.