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Foton throws support behind World Cup dragon boat contingent

Foton throws support behind World Cup dragon boat contingent

Text and photos by Sharon Robas-Macawile

Foton Motor Philippines Inc. (FMPI) has come a long way since it started in 2006, from being one of the leading players in the Philippine automotive industry, to an avid supporter of the development of sports in the country.

Thanks to FMPI’s chair Rommel L. Sytin, a certified sports enthusiast who has no qualms in giving its support in the field of sports.

Romeo “Romy” Arnar, AVP and general manager/trainor of Foton and Chery Pasig, said Sytin used to be a varsity track and field player in UST.

“He is really into sports, and has always been into physical activities like hiking,” Arnar shared.

Foton-backed teams include Pampanga Foton, which won the Filsports Basketball Association (FBA) crown in 2015, and Premiere Volleyball League’s (PVL) Foton Tornadoes and Cherry Tiggo Crossovers.

Recently, Foton supported Dagun Pilipinas Dragon Boat Team in its debut race in the prestigious 2023 International Canoe Federation

(ICF) Dragon Boat World Cup held in Zigui County, Yichang in China on June 21-23.

Arnar, a dragon boat paddler since 2013, was part of the winning team at the World Cup, adding that Foton also supported his former dragon boat team in its bid in an international race held in Boracay in 2014.

When he learned that his team Dagun Pilipinas, a club team under the Philippine Canoe Kayak

Dragonboat Federation, will represent the Philippines in two competitions in China, Arnar did not hesitate to ask Sytin for sponsorship. And Foton agreed.

The Filipino paddlers did not disappoint as it won four bronze medals in the 200-meter mixed 10-seater and eight-seater, the women’s 10-seater, and the 2000-meter mixed eight-seater categories, and ranked third overall in the prestigious competition in which 14 teams—including several teams from the host nation China, and from Hong Kong, Singapore, Iran, India, Malaysia, the United States, Tanzania, Zambia, Macau, and the Philippines—took part.

Dagun Pilipinas also bagged three gold and three silver medals at the 2023 “Taihang Quancheng Cup” Xingtai International Dragon Boat Invitational held on June 25.

Arnar said the team’s multiple victories in the China races meant a lot to him. “I can hang up my paddle now,” he kidded. “Racing in the dragon boat World Cup is a paddler’s ultimate dream.”

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But retiring from the sport may take a back seat from now as Arnar, 55, still sees himself paddling in local and international races in years to come.

‘I love this sport and it makes me happy. Yes, you get tired from all the training but at the end of the day, I am happy doing it,” Arnar said.

Arnar said he was never intimidated by the team’s younger members and attributed his stamina from living a healthy lifestyle, and his discipline to being a competitive person.

“On the contrary, I want the young members to see that though I am at this age, I can still do things like dragon boat racing, and when they reach this age, sana kaya nila pa rin. Age is just a number. You need discipline. You have to take care of yourself well.”

As a trainor, Arnar believes in walking the talk, so he also makes sure to instill the dragon boat mindset and discipline in his sales team. “I always tell them ang sales parang dragon boat, lahat tayo may sagwan. The paddle symbolizes our responsibility. In dragon boat there is what we call “sawsaw,” sumasagwan pero walang power so hindi nakakatulong. Sa sales ganun din, may pumapasok lang na empleyado pero walang productivity. Kahit pagod ka, you still need to paddle to move forward, and at the end of each month, you need to do the “last kick” to meet the target.”

The Foton-exec also reminds his trainees of the importance of teamwork: “In dragon boat sport, there is the drummer and the steersman. I am the drummer, so you have to follow the pace of the drummer, you have to follow my speed, para magkasabay-sabay tayo, and the steersman is our big boss, who will steer us and the company in the right direction.”