CITY OF MATI, Davao Oriental, 19March2017 (PIA)  --- Multitude of colours, joyous cheers and jubilant songs  yesterday greeted about 15,000 athletes, visitors and coaches during the grand opening ceremony of the 2017 Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) held  at the Mati Sports Complex in Barangay  Sainz, City of Mati.

Hosted by the Province of Davao Oriental, the 2017 DAVRAA  first time drew 11 delegations from the Department of Education  (DepEd) schools districts in  the  provinces and cities  of Davao Region.

Upon  entering the oval  and passing through the grandstand for the Parade of Delegations, each participating delegation made a showdown of force, colors and enthusiasm as they sounded off  their respective hymns of the provinces and cities they were  representing.

The heat got on but key guests of the 2017 DAVRAA Opening called on them to live by the spirit of camaraderie,  friendship and sportsmanship, and to stay on course with this year’s DAVRAA theme, “One Davao Region, One Goal:  Excellence through Sports”.

In his welcome remarks, City of Mati Mayor Carlos Luis Rabat expected the DAVRAA to instil discipline, camaraderie and teamwork.

“One Davao Region, One Goal:  Excellence through Sports,’ this applies to you. We come from all corners  of the region. We compete in various events aiming to further develop us; enjoy what sports you are into, doing your best to excel in your field,” he said.

In his message, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Charles Maxey encouraged athletes to eye sports opportunities beyond DAVRAA, and even beyond the Palarong Pambansa.

“Do not just eye the Palaro; strive for the national team. Play for the flag of the country,” he said egging on the athletes to clinch for opportunities to represent the Philippines in international sports events.

Gracing the occasion,  Davao Oriental 1st District Representative Corazon N. Malanyaon pointed out  the “unifying” effect of sports that it can even transform conflict into brotherhood.

She also noted the humbling effect of sports that athletes should have the kind of spirit that is  ready to accept  defeat as well as triumph. She hoped that they “learn to handle defeat more than just accepting victories”.

Meanwhile, Provincial Governor Nelson Dayanghirang reminded athletes to “play along and rise above obstacles;  rise up to the challenges.  “Just play the game fair square and enjoy while doing it.”

On the other hand,  keynote speaker Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua revealed plans of DepEd to “make education more liberating” as  the system of education will be providing opportunities for students to pursue “whatever you want to pursue and excel at doing”.

He reminded athletes that “winning is not  everything”,  and that the discipline and perseverance  that defeat  develop  in them can push them to explore more challenges and avenues of learning.  “Do something new and do it with the same fervor,”  he said.  

DAVRAA is organized by DepEd in close partnership with local government units which bid to host it.  The next DAVRAA is set in Davao City.  (PIA 11/ Jeanevive Duron Abangan)