Hundreds of students from Tondo, Manila, who served as mascots or player escorts during the FIBA World Cup, were honored during a ceremony that also marked the 4th year of San Miguel Corporation’s Better World Community Center—a food bank and learning institution catering to over 500 families in the area.
The students from General Vicente Lim Elementary School received FIBA kits containing headbands, shoes, t-shirts, shorts, socks, basketballs, as well as products from San Miguel Purefoods during the FIBA Wanda Little Champions event organized in partnership with the San Miguel Foundation.
The event was attended by FIBA local organizing committee (LOC) officials Eric Altamirano and Wanda Little Champions Project Lead Josh Paulite, Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, and Hotshots forward Rome De la Rosa.
“We are very pleased with the participation of Better World Tondo and General Vicente Lim Elementary School,” said Altamirano, head of the National Basketball Training Center, who once coached the Purefoods team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Victolero, whose two young sons were among the children who walked with players from various World Cup teams during entrance parades, expressed his gratitude for the rare opportunity given to the grade school boys and girls, some of whom were from the Better World community and the said school.
“We’re very thankful, grateful, and proud of San Miguel Foundation for the chance to be part of that program,” said Victolero. “It was an experience that my sons will surely never forget, even as they grow older.
“We don’t know when the FIBA World Cup will return, so it’s truly a great experience for the youth, especially for my children. It’s something they will treasure for their entire lives,” he added.
A teacher from General Vicente Lim Elementary School, Prescila Ascuna, mentioned that potential FIBA World Cup participants were screened before a list was compiled.
“This is a great opportunity, not only for the school but also for the children,” she said. “Of course, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. So, we are very grateful to San Miguel Foundation because even though the children sometimes returned home late, and as they kept coming back during the duration of the World Cup, they brought home a memorable experience.”
The San Miguel Corporation-Better World Tondo community center was opened by SMC president and CEO Ramon S. Ang in September 2019 to reduce both food waste and hunger.
San Miguel Foundation led the Better World morning events, along with Rise Against Hunger Philippines and AHA Learning Center.
Before noon, the ceremony shifted to the General Vicente Lim Elementary covered court for the FIBA Wanda Little Champions event.
SMC, through San Miguel Beer as an event partner, supported the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the country co-hosted with Japan and Indonesia.
The Philippines’ largest conglomerate has also provided its sports manpower resources to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas during the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas team for the World Cup, as well as for the forthcoming 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The Wanda Group, meanwhile, is a multinational corporation founded in Dalian, Liaoning, and headquartered in Beijing. It is involved in construction, diversified investments, entertainment and media, and financial services.
The Little Champions event was launched during the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China as a means of connecting with the future generation of potential national players.