DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 March) -- Brunei Darussalam delegates led by its Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports permanent secretary will arrive for the road show and launching of the 6th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines- East Asian Growth Association (BIMP-EAGA) Games on March 25, 9 a.m. at the Apo View Hotel.
Dr. Zafri Mohamed, the ministry secretary, will spearhead the road show which signals the start of preparations for the four-nation friendship games slated November 28 to 30 in Brunei, said Joseph Encabo, Mindanao representative to the BIMP-EAGA Sports Council.
Encabo added delegates from Sabah, Malaysia will also be coming over to attend the road show.
This year’s edition of the four-nation friendship games carries the theme “Cooperation through sports.” Sports coordinators from various local government units in Mindanao will be invited to attend the road show, according to Encabo who is also the senior executive assistant to Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
The list of LGUs to be invited included those from Compostela Valley, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao City, Sarangani Province, General Santos City, South Cotabato and Lanao Del Sur. Encabo said the LGUs will select the events they want to participate in and determine the number of athletes they will be sending.
This year’s edition of the four-nation biennial meet, touted as a venue for strengthening economic cooperation in the region, will feature competitions in athletics, aquatics, sepak takraw, badminton, futsal, tennis and pencak silat.
Traditionally, the choice of events depends on the limited budget available for the athletes' transportation and needs of the host country and its growth area.
The BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games was conceived in 1995 as a venue for sports development, as well as educational and cultural exchange among athletes from the four countries.
It aims to promote opportunities to intensify interaction among peoples and governments within BIMP-EAGA other than trade and enhance unity and cooperation among the youth of participating countries through friendly sports.
Since it also promotes friendship, the BIMP-EAGA sports council which is composed of the heads of the various sports councils of the four-member countries in the growth area preferred to feature mostly non-contact sports.
There are 13 growth areas entered in the meet: Brunei Darrusalam, Gorontalo, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, South East Sulawesi and West Papua of Indonesia, Sabah, Sarawak and Federal territory of Labuan of Malaysia and Mindanao and Palawan of the Philippines.
In a previous interview with MindaNews, Susannah Liaw, permanent Secretary of Sabah, Malaysia's Ministry of Youth and Sports and chair of the Sabah Sports Council, said sports tourism around the region could be an offshoot of the games.
She said that through sports, regional cooperation takes a new pace as it gives more reason to come together.
"With the friendship games, we strengthen similarities and celebrate differences," she said. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)