Community is important in the growth of a person. Like what writer, educator, and humanitarian Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” This is particularly true for para-athletes, whose respective communities have been their support as they strive to become better each day.For 14-year-old footballer Jerald Pelonita, football is his source of happiness. “It gives me joy because I can play with my classmates. They supported me to join the football team.”
It was not an easy feat for the shy athlete, who was born without his arms, but he did not give up. “I wanted to be like the famous football players in the Philippines. I continue to watch training videos online and I practice those drills.”
Coach Peter Lim, Jerald’s coach, said that for young ones like Jerald, they enjoy being around many friends. “Jerald saw that there’s no discrimination in the sport. We help them develop their personality.”
Meanwhile, for 28-year-old coach Coleen Faye Grande, who now uses a wheelchair after figuring in a car accident, football became her anchor. A former athlete in a Manila university, Coach Coleen leaned on her family and friends’ support. “It has a positive impact on my mental health. They provide emotional understanding, encouragement, and promote my overall well-being.”
Driven by passion for sports
Despite the challenges, Jerald and Coleen remain steadfast in their faith in the game.
Jerald said his focus is on the ball. “I just think about how to win, how to defend. I know that I can’t do everything, especially with my disability. But I think that I can run as fast as everyone else.”
On the other hand, Coleen shared how sports and her community gave her “so much hope to live my life to the fullest.”
“Sports can teach you valuable lessons such as having a sense of discipline and commitment. Having a sense of purpose can motivate you to become the best athlete or coach that you can be,” she said.
Jerald and Coleen are part of this year’s Better Today: Power Move Project, organized by PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), to celebrate World Mental Health month. An advocacy supported by MVP Sports Foundation and Football for Humanity, this video series aims to champion mental health and wellness through sports and features inspiring stories of Filipino para-athletes and coaches who embody the true meaning of persistence, bravery, and mental resilience.
This initiative is also aligned with the Group’s commitment to help the country achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals #10 on reducing inequality by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. It also aims to uplift and improve the overall digital wellness of Filipinos, underscoring the commitment of PLDT and Smart to the UN SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being. The promotion of diversity and equality also highlights Concern, one of the four pillars that make up the PLDT Group’s sustainability framework.