Ready to #DREAMBIG?
Let me tell you a story of the greatest tennis player I know:
There was a boy living in a small shanty beside a tennis court located inside one of Manila’s prominent residential villages. He and his siblings were orphans and were being brought up by their grandparents. His grandfather was the caretaker of the tennis court and the boy picked up balls for players to help his grandfather earn an extra income. But of course, living with three other children and two adults who were old and sick was a daily struggle. However, this little boy, at a very young age, worked as hard as he could to make sure that everyone ate at least 2-3 meals a day and that his grandparents took their medication.
His grandfather taught him to play tennis. He began liking the sport and evolved from just picking up balls to playing with some of the guests whenever they requested for a hitting partner. As he continued to play, people started to recognize his potential. He got encouraged to compete and worked his way up the junior national rankings. He got a bit of support when it came to clothing, rackets, and shoes, but he still couldn’t afford to eat healthy meals before tournaments. He would resort to eating a piece of bread and drinking soda to feel full. But that never stopped him from playing more and committing to winning his matches.
Life started getting better for him. He got sponsors, joined bigger local and international tournaments, and was sent to other countries to train. He made his grandfather exceptionally proud. Then he started to get offers from universities in the United States to represent the University team. Many would have jumped at the chance. But he was torn. Because all he had wanted from tennis was to be able to support his siblings and grandparents. Playing for a university in the US meant that he would not be able to be there for them. In the end, he selflessly chose his family and decided to stay in the Philippines and represent a local university in Manila.
He was the Number 1 tennis player in the Philippines for a few years, represented the nation in several prestigious events such as the Davis Cup, Asian Games, and Sea Games. Today, he still remains one of the best players this country has seen.
His name is Bobie Angelo and he is my Dad! Tennis completely transformed his life. But, sometimes I wonder where he would be today if he had actually taken one of those US scholarship opportunities that were available to him?
Today, I work with several young and promising high school athletes achieve their dreams of playing at a top University in the US. Most of them come from more established backgrounds – good academic schools, supportive family members, and high-performance equipment so that they are the best at their sport. Getting a degree from a world-class university or becoming a recognized professional athlete are dreams that are not impossible in this corner of the world. And with nothing to hold them back, I am very proud that we have sent these hard-working and motivated Asian athletes to more than a hundred universities in the US.
But how many athletes, like my dad, can even dare to dream as big? How many athletes from different circumstances can hope for the same set of opportunities? I wish I had an answer. I have always been filled with the frustration that the growing gap between the poor and rich has not just skewed economic resources to the latter, but has also hindered the economically-challenged to aspire for more, and to believe they can actually achieve great things.
Recently, I launched the AddedSport Scholars Program. It aims to provide the same benefits of the AddedSport counseling services to athletes from less-privileged backgrounds and guide them through the college recruitment process on a pro bono basis. This process will prepare them to become some of the best student-athletes to be recruited. And in line with the company’s vision to develop the next wave of professional athletes through the US Collegiate process, this program aims to help Asian athletes to:
Provide them with a stepping stone to building a professional career
Build a better and more secure future for themselves and their families
This process would be nothing without a dream to start with. Moving forward, I want to see more children in public schools develop their passion for sports. I want to see more young athletes persevere to develop their skills and use them to open up new opportunities that they didn’t even know about. I want for more young athletes to be empowered to #DreamBig.
Ready to #DREAMBIG?