Camille Clarin found herself at the intersection of sustainability projects late Friday afternoon.
The Gilas Pilipinas standout graced the launch of an eco-friendly court at the corner of 25th and 7th in Bonifacio Global City, balling with other guests and taking time out to reflect on the growth spurt experienced by the national women’s program over the past few months.
“All the success we’ve been having is giving the opportunity for a lot of young girls to see that there is a future in representing the country,” the 22-year-old sweet-shooting star out of National University said at the newly-opened Nike Courtyard.
Gilas Pilipinas finished with a silver in the Southeast Asian Games in May and later cemented its place in Division A of the Fiba’s Asian zone.
Weeks after that, the girls’ U16 squad also vaulted into Division A with a remarkable Fiba Asia run of its own.
“The grassroots is paying off, all the recruiting coach Pat (Aquino, national team mentor and women’s program director) is doing is really paying off,” Clarin said.
But, she added, sustainability will play a big role in determining whether the recent gains of the program can translate into something long-term.
“Having more coaches, having more players, people willing to give to the program [will be crucial],” Clarin said.
“I think [having] sponsors is a big thing,” she added. “We need to keep the momentum going because from here on out, we want to play more tournaments, to have more exposure. So we hope that we have more people to support us moving forward.”
And increments of support can add up to a huge plus for the women’s program.
The Courtyard, a 2,182-square-meter project built on 30,000 pairs of recycled shoes is pitching in its share by making sure the two Fiba-standard courts and one half-court playground will have dedicated time slots for women ballers.
“Every Tuesday and Thursday, there are basically timeslots that you can book in the Nike app that is basically dedicated for women,” Nike Philippines country marketing manager Jino Ferrer said. “Of course, besides every day where you can basically enjoy and book a slot. [But on] Tuesdays and Thursdays, specifically from 6 to 10 p.m., the courts are [strictly for] female ballers.”
Doing so turns the Courtyard, which aims to develop a sustainable eco-friendly sporting culture, into something more than just a playground.
“With the launch of the Courtyard, now we can all belong here. Call it our home, inspire one another and pass our passion onto the next generation,” said La Salle Lady Archer Marga Jimenez. “[The Courtyard can be our] launchpads for dreams to take flight. I have a dream, too. And I hope I speak for many other female ballers like me that one day, Manila will play host to the women’s basketball World Cup so the world can see the incredible talent we have here in the Philippines.”
For now, the women’s program is focusing on its next target.
“There is the Asian Games [coming up] and that will be exciting because it will be the first time [the Gilas women] will play in that,” Clarin said. —WITH A REPORT FROM LANCE AGCAOILI/INQUIRER.net
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