The Grad Gift Fellowship Games – To Give One’s Self

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As the sun started to peek through the clouds of the most brutal phases of the pandemic, the Xavier Football Family thought, “How can we do what is best for others safely?” By the fourth quarter of 2021, with the football coaches and Xavier senior high students in mind, the XS alumni and administration hatched a plan called Project Ahya (Older Brother). The concept was to have fellowship gatherings among high school students, faculty, and alumni footballers, ensuring a higher standard of safety protocols in support of the XS Pockets of Wellness Program. At least a primary level of vaccination was required and wearing of masks while playing was mandatory. The intention, was to send a message to everyone: “Trust us because we care about you and your safety.”

As the Omicron surge subsided in mid-February, 2022, and alert level one was implemented by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force, the alumni and senior high school students began their quest of making up for two years worth of sports education into three Sunday afternoons. This gave birth to The Grad Gift Fellowship Games. The event consisted of two alumni teams and two senior high teams facing each other every Sunday with the main purpose of bringing the Xavier community closer together and gifting the graduating seniors a full sporting experience as they prepared for college. Each weekend had a specific lesson:
Week one: Embrace both past and future.
Week two: Apply what you study.
Week three: Never give up.

The initiative was a rousing success, and, thankfully, through God’s grace and everyone’s cooperation, no major health or safety challenges were encountered. The most important gift of all was being able to spend time with each other in the spirit of sports competition, united in wanting to make this world a safer and better place.  

As XS ’96 was also nearing its anniversary celebration, they chose to contribute to this initiative by making a donation on the final Sunday, April 3, 2022. The donation was made on behalf of everyone in the batch, and, in particular, Michael Araneta Ledesma (+), one of Xavier School’s many outstanding Football Players, and his family. A cheque for P100,000 (P50,000 from XS ’96 and P50,000 from the Ledesma family) was turned over alongside football equipment. School President Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ nominated the Xavier Alay Kapwa Fund to be the recipient of the cash donation

On the final day,  Xavier Football parents prepared food for everyone, and this was shared with the security and staff as a show of appreciation for all their hard work during the pandemic. As the events of the day took place, a spirit of solidarity emerged: we move as one, we share a meal as one, and we love as one. Tears flowed on the final day as the graduating seniors and their families looked back at everything they had been through and the seniors were welcomed with warm embraces by their alumni family. 

The Xavier football field is a place where many meaningful and magical memories were created. The Grad Gift Fellowship Games reminded everyone that Xavier School will always be a place for alumni and their families to come home to and come together. This reunion of sorts every Sunday at the Xavier football field signaled a renewal of school spirit, alumni bonds, and hope. 

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