I'll never forget the day I walked out to play my first grand final. I remember all the hard work, all the dedication and all the preparation it took to get the team to that stage. We won our first championship that day and, since then, I was hooked on the challenge. I was 10 years old.
Sport has played – and continues to play – a major role in shaping the person I am today. Having had the luxury of growing up in Australia, in a competitive sports environment, I was exposed to both talented individuals and consistent hard workers who never gave up. I started playing rugby at the age of six. Growing up as an athlete required a life of dedication and discipline.
While I started at an early age, it did not necessarily mean I was the most skilled or talented in the team. But each year, I had an advantage when playing the sport, because every year meant more experience – more knowledge and understanding of what it took to win. Playing rugby taught me how to learn from past mistakes and to keep doing what worked, which ultimately taught me to be a better athlete.
I also learned a lot from my teammates. Being exposed to different personalities, taught me not just how to work with diverse groups of people, but I also learned to take the best qualities from those I admired, and was conscious not to replicate those who were difficult to work with.
Everything I learned on the field transitioned into other parts of my life. I credit sport for the person I am today.
People have different reasons as to why they choose to have sport play a major role in their lives. Some people actually enjoy sport, others do it for health or exercise, others do it to meet people, while there are those who want to master a skill. For me, I liked the challenge sport brought.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the reason is – the benefits are the same.
Sport teaches you how not to quit when the human body wants to give in. It teaches you how to deal with the disappointment of losing something you worked so hard for. It teaches you how to remain humble in victory. It tests your character. It teaches you not to give up.
Sport teaches you to find a method to the madness. It is transformative. It does not discriminate. Sport teaches you how to develop life-long friendships – whether in a team sport or in an individual sport with your mentor.
Some of my best friends and my best memories come from playing with the Philippine Volcanoes. Playing for the national team has opened up boundless opportunities for me – from traveling the world, to opening up doors for me to play professionally in Japan. It has allowed me to become a part of a special type of brotherhood, allowed me to get to know my heritage, and introduced me to my Filipino background in a way I never have before. All this because of sport, all this because of rugby.
After a lifelong dedication of over twenty years being involved in sport, I am excited to share in this blog key lessons I have taken away over time, both on the field and off it. My goal is to allow Cluster readers to learn not only from athletes like me, but also managers and coaches with extensive experiences – so that Cluster readers too can adopt these lessons, and incorporate them into their lives.