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Fil-Am founded organization donates sneakers to poor basketball players

Monica Galozo | TFC News Virginia Beach, Virginia

Posted at Oct 07 2022 08:27 PM

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Beyond the hard court, Filipino American basketball enthusiasts are making a difference in the lives of children one pair of sneakers at a time.

Chicago-based non-profit organization Bata Sole tours around the US, hosting basketball camps and teaching participants the value of sharing their blessings to the less fortunate.

It collects donations of brand new and gently used shoes for the benefit of those who love to play basketball but can’t afford to buy proper footwear for the sport. Its founder Jeff Masangcay was inspired to create Bata Sole when he went home to the Philippines in 2012 for the very first time to visit his mom's hometown in Pangasinan.

"We went to my mom's province and one day, we saw a bunch of kids playing basketball, no shoes. We made a promise to the kids and my mom's village that we would come back there and make it rain sneakers on them," Masangcay said.

Just as he promised, after creating Bata Sole in 2017, Masangcay returned with his team and donated over a thousand sneakers to children in Pangasinan and surrounding barrios. That first mission trip made a big impact to those who went with him so they returned in 2019 to donate more shoes. They held an event at the Tenement Court in Taguig where hundreds of residents received free sneakers.

Masangcay said, "since we started, we are over about 20,000 pairs of sneakers. It is not just in the Philippines. We work with different communities, and we work with different countries now."

Former University of the Philippines Maroons Michael Silungan said the project allows him not only to give back but also to continue to play the sport he loves.

"Giving back is number one but also sharing the game and knowledge," Silungan pointed out. "Every single time we step on this court, we know that we are not just impacting the kids, the families, and the community but also the families and communities in the poor and impoverished areas."

Recently, Bata Sole held a Camp Sole Tour in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The camp teaches participants the fundamentals of basketball. But beyond that, it also helps them collect more shoes for their beneficiaries and at the same time, it teaches kids the value of giving back to the communities in need.

"It is awesome that we are able to dream, to be Lebron James, to be Kyrie Irving, to wear their sneakers, to wear the Kevin Durants that we have, and dream that we are out there. But there are millions of kids, just like themselves, dreaming without the resources, the sneakers," Masangcay noted.

Jay Robles, a father who himself loves to play basketball, said he signed up his son to join the camp not only to enhance his basketball skills but also because he strongly supports the advocacy of Bata Sole.

He said he spent his childhood in Olongapo and he knows how it feels to not have shoes.

"I didn't have shoes until [I was] 7-years-old. I understand how it feels to not have shoes. And them getting shoes will definitely help them out and help their morale," Robles shared.
 
Through their successful grassroots basketball program Camp Sole, Bata Sole has been to four cities this year, trained over 500 athletes, and has so far collected and donated about 3,000 pairs of sneakers.