Dragon Boat Leader
    Category: Column By : Andrew Tani Read : 1156 Date : Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 14:21:13

    “50 pushups!” the dragon boat leader barks at his 30 boys. All of them fall to the ground and take their punishment. Their crimes? They had jumped and shouted for joy after bagging the championship trophy in that year's National Dragon Boat Race in the Philippines.It was the first championship trophy of the Pirates Dragon Boat Team. Captain Hook—the nickname of the dragon boat leader—told them before the race that if they won, that true champions do not make the losing team feel worse. The boys forgot. So 50 pushups.

    The boys never repeated that punishable behavior in what became a four-year career of unstoppable championship in national and later regional races. They won all of them, including Best Paddle Exhibition and Best Uniform. Captain Hook's rowers are special because all of them are homeless boys who were living on the streets of Manila, Philippines—Captain Hook gave them a chance to become champions. He bought them the simplest uniforms, imposed exercises and a very lean diet.

    The exercise regimen was rigorous. Captain Hook found heavy wood to practice rowing with—twice as heavy as the actual paddles used in the race. The mental regimen included silent meditation. He constantly reminded them that their lives will improve only if they have more energy, more discipline and more desire to win than other boys with more advantages. The rules of discipline, honor and humility were enforced—without hesitation and favor. The one goal was to win the race.