Dragon boat sporting events have been making waves in the Philippines for their high intensity races and adrenaline filled moments. Riding this surge of momentum is the DLSU Dragon Boat team, which proved to many that they do fit in among the top teams this country has to offer.
DLSU Dragon Boat team captain Erico De Leon shares the team’s training regime and preparation for tournaments they ensure that their will to succeed is only rivaled by their sheer passion for the sport.
Ready for battle
The DLSU Dragon Boat team is one of the younger teams in various competitions. The team is purely made up of students and is often forced to face bigger and stronger clubs. However, De Leon describes how their systematic preparation has been one of the bigger key factors to their success. “Yung first week namin, medyo ano pa lang yun tawag namin dun preparation. So medyo conditioning lang yun. Medyo workout. Yung ano lang, gym lang. Para mag-increase lang yung strength ng team. Then second nun is yung magpapractice na kami ng strokes namin,” the veteran paddler says.
In addition, De Leon mentions what makes their preparation different is that the team insists on starting from scratch after every race. “Kasi usually pag sa every after race, ang mangyayari is nagsa-start kami from scratch para yung lakas namin is mare-regain namin ng mare-regain,” he explains.
The face of challenge
As a sport that is away from the limelight, one of the team’s challenges is to encourage people to join their ranks. De Leon gives his thoughts on the comparison between Dragon Boat and other sports such as basketball and volleyball, mentions that it takes a while for people to digest the differences. On a higher note, the team gives importance to the recruitment of new members and makes sure that they are given the proper guidance to eventually compete.
Another challenge that the team faces is the lack of funding. This is a huge problem especially for their participation in international races. De Leon says that to get around it, they look for international races that are cheap enough for them to pay with their own money. He shares that there are also races wherein the expenses are already accommodated by the organizer. “Yung sa Malaysia [race] namin, flight lang yung babayaran namin dun.”
From the hard work
Teamwork and camaraderie are the keys to this sport. Unlike the other sports, dragon boat does not have any star players that are singled out in the team. Instead, the team gets recognized as a single functioning unit. “Kasi sa dragon boat, kailangan pareparehas kayo ng lakas, pareparehas kayo ng stroke,” says De Leon. He explains that the difference in the strengths of the athletes would only serve as a liability. Those with more strength will have to shoulder the others who are lacking of it.
Besides building the sense of camaraderie, the paddlers will be able to exercise discipline as they practice the sport. Waking up early for their training session, which is usually scheduled at four in the morning the players will need to follow a strict diet before a competition to ensure the proper build-up of their muscles.
Furthermore, the players are also able to avoid vices more easily, since the paddlers know that getting involved with these things would only hinder them in their training as their bodies would grow significantly weaker.
A sense of fulfillment
The DLSU Dragon Boat team has already garnered a number of impressive achievements, particularly during the year 2011, when they placed in the numerous races they participated in. The latest was the Sarawak International Dragon Boat Regatta that was held in Malaysia last year.
De Leon shares the anxiety that the team felt as they stood before their fellow competitors who were much older and larger in build than them. Despite of the intimidating presence of other competitors, the DLSU Dragon Boat team was able to bag second place in the mixed division and third in the men’s division. “Pinakita lang naman namin dun is yung kung papaano yung [mga] Pilipino eh. Kung pano yung puso ng Lasalyano.” The team captain gleefully adds, “So parang masaya lang naman na nagrepresent ka sa school tsaka sa bansa.”
Looking to secure more victories, the DLSU Dragon Boat team continues to train everyday, gaining more strength with each stroke that they make. Recently, the team participated in Pagsanjan Bangkero Festival last March 15 wherein they ranked second in both the women’s and mixed finals of the tourney. The team also competed in the 1st Alaminos Invitational Dragonboat Race last March 22, however, as of press time, results are yet to be released.