New City Magazine - August 2016

A Heart for Sports


Renatina Grazia Lipasana, a competitive gymnast and a youth member of the Focolare Movement from Cebu, explains her passion for sports and how it has shaped her sense of being and community.


Why do you like sports?
I enjoy playing and I am a competitive type of person.

What got you into this field? I started gymnastics when I was six years old. I still vividly recall a TV advertisement of a gymnast performing and I was so amazed. I immediately told my mother that I wanted to be a gymnast.

Luckily, when I enrolled in the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, they had a gymnastics program and without any second thought, I enlisted. Is this something you can imagine doing all through your life? I can say that I was born to be an athlete. It is something innate in me.

If sports has done anything significant to your development as a person, what is it?
I started at a very young age. It helped me to overcome fear and to never give up because winners never quit and quitters never win.

Can you recount a particular experience wherein you lived being a Gen fully in sports? I joined a national competition when I was in 5th grade. We were three in a team and two of us came from the same school. Before the competition proper, my mother and I overheard that one of our coaches had made a deal with my teammate’s mother.

The coach asked for a part of the cash prize if my teammate would win the first place.Technically, it meant that our coach would train her more. It was so disappointing when we found this out. At once, my mother and I decided to forgive and treat them as we had always done.

We remembered Jesus Forsaken at that very moment and offered everything, especially my performance. I did my very best in every event and was awarded as the over-all champion. True enough, if we remain faithful to this Ideal, Jesus never gets outdone in His generosity.

Do you think sports can revolutionize the world? In what ways?
Yes, because sports can bring people together, even if they come from different ages, walks of life, religions, etc. Pope Francis said sports can develop social friendships.

I have seen how this is possible in small and big sports events such as the Palarong Pambansa, SEA Games and Olympics, as well as through Youth Camps and the Dula Ta Bai.

What is Dula Ta Bai?
Dula Ta Bai is an expression of what the youth of the little town of Dumaguete represent: culture, dynamism, and social consciousness.

It sprung up from a desire to spend a day of physical and spiritual activity together, setting up an environment that would open the hearts of other youth to current and social issues like apathy, addiction and depression. Dula Ta Bai is a great opportunity to showcase one’s talent and to discover new things.

What is your dream in sports?
My goal is to build my own gymnastics club and mold champions in the future. I would also like to encourage more parents to expose their children to sports.

How should young people view sports?
Playing sports offers children more than just physical benefits. Sports typically helps kids academically and socially as well.

What do you want to tell other young people out there who are also attracted to sports?
It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it! It takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work. I would also tell them to persevere and let God do the rest.

Interview by Jeffrey Gil Lingamen



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