The UAAP board has recently announced the inclusion of a mixed genders division in select sports as a pilot division in the league’s 79th Season. The sports events that will open a mixed gender division are Badminton, Table Tennis, and Lawn Tennis.
Being a pilot division, the mixed genders sports will not be included in the official tally of the UAAP General Championship, given that it will need to undergo a phase of standardization.
Level playing field
Over the years, the development of scientific and rigorous training regimens have paved way for the enhanced performance of of both male and female athletes. A third year player from the Lady Tennisters who asked not to be named believes that some of her teammates have not only matched the capabilities of some of their male counterparts but have also surpassed them as well. “Hindi naman sa pagyayabang, pero there were several times in practice when the girls would actually outplay the guys in sparring matches,” she said, when asked about the competitions between both teams during practice.
In particular, racket sports have seen a steady increase in tournaments wherein mixed doubles are a regular fixture in their schedules.
With the level gap between genders shrinking day by day, several female athletes have been clamoring for the addition of the mixed genders division. With the support of Senator Pia Cayetano, Gabriela, and other women’s advocacy groups, several petitions by athletes were submitted to the UAAP last month. After a thorough review of their proposals, the UAAP Board of Directors decided to green light the project but only on a probationary basis.
Unity in competition
Lady Paddler Mardeline Carreon hopes that the pilot mixed doubles division will finally erase doubts on how women match up against men. She adds that strength and physical prowess aren’t everything, especially in racket sports.
“Your physical gifts can get you harder hits, but proper skills and ball control are still more important,” Carreon says.
Men’s badminton player Kenneth Monterubio welcomes the development. He hopes that the move can help remove the stereotypes regarding gender and sports, while also letting the athletes’ play do the talking.
“As long as they could compete, bakit mo naman sila pipigilan?” he said when asked about his thoughts on the issue.
Several high-profile personalities have lauded the UAAP’s decision. Among those who expressed their support are journalist Risa Hontiveros, politicians Loren Legarda and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, celebrities Carla Abellana and Maine Mendoza, and lastly, boxer Manny Pacquiao.