BY NOEL VILLA (founder and coach of the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club)
Each one of us has a role to play in this world: a good father, a great leader, and a lot more. As for me, I choose to be a simple teacher who loves to teach and share my passion for Rugby.
I admit, I am no Jonah Lomu (the first global superstar in Rugby Union) and I will never be like him inside the pitch. But that’s not the only way one can spread love for the sport, especially in a place where almost nobody has ever seen a real rugby ball.
Back in the United Kingdom where I stayed for 27 years, I grew up playing rugby for my school. I love how the sport teaches discipline, strategy and team work and of course, the show of strength and agility which every sportsman can relate.
When I came home to the Philippines for a vacation in September 2011, I was lucky to find a rugby team to train with. My first team, The Raging Bisons, won 2nd Place in the Plate Division during the first ever Rugby 7’s in the 2012 Philippine National Games. I later joined the Globe Immortals Team and have contributed to Rugby 101 program to teach the sport at the Ultra grounds, which I find quite fulfilling.
Love brought me to Cagayan de Oro City in June of 2013 and I have settled in this lovely City ever since. But there was one problem: nobody that I talked to knew anything about Rugby when I first came here. So, I started jogging at Pueblo de Oro carrying my only Rugby Ball, tossing the ball up in the air from 5:30am to 7:00am, with the sole mission of getting a curious jogger to ask what the egg-shaped ball was for. That proved to be a challenge and yes, I got some odd looks from the people who saw me then. For the next few days I did this religiously and though not having much luck, I didn’t think of giving up on the sport that has helped me a lot growing up.
After a few days of no luck, I realized I have to change my strategy. Since there was no Rugby club in the local scene, I decided to create one.
So in August 2013, I formed a Facebook Page which I named Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club (CDO RFC) hoping to catch the attention of those who are curious about the sport and possibly get them to play Rugby. I made sure to advertise the Club in different FB Groups, subtly recruiting boys and girls to try playing the sport and practically promoting its history and growth into the mainstream sports scene.
Three guys showed up during the first training session, then became ten and soon enough, we got girls into the Team. Now there are over thirty members in the Club and counting.
Above all, I am proud that CDO RFC Team has developed a heart for the community through our social advocacy, “Help Change the Life of a Child” providing sports therapy and feeding program to the children of Boys Town in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City.
We also advocate the value of charity and goodwill to the community through our “Give Blood, Play Rugby” Program where we donate blood through the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.
Creating and maintaining the CDO RFC was no walk in the park and there is still so much work to be done.
I started the Club with no funds and had to rely on friends to share some of their precious savings so I can run the Club with integrity. There were paper works to accomplish, fees to pay and plenty of unanswered questions such as, “Where shall we train the kids?”, “Where do we get the balls, crash pads and cones for training?”, “How do we produce the kits?”, “How do we recruit players?” or “Where do we get the budget for rugby development?” and so on. Most of the answers to these questions actually cost me my own savings and precious time.
Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle.” True, there were challenging obstacles along the way but I chose to do this because I love what I do and I believe that there are talents waiting to be discovered. Now I can proudly say that after five months of training under the sun or rain, CDO RFC is ready to take on another milestone: compete in a real game against more experienced teams.
UPDATE: On February 22, 2014, the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club competed with the Cebu Dragons and Davao Durians at the Pelaez Sports Complex in Cagayan de Oro City. The day began with a free Get Into Rugby (GIR) Clinic which was open for boys and girls aged 11 to 16 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. followed by the kick-off games of the VisMin Rugby Football League from 12 noon onwards.
See below for photos taken during the event.
Do you know which multi-awarded green condominium building in CDO is proudly supporting the Cagayan de Oro Rugby Football Club? Click here.