A team of Filipina paddlers made up of domestic workers recently turned a dream into reality by successfully participating in a dragon boat race.

For the past three months, 53 members of Filipino Dynamo Dragon Boat Team had been training hard on land and in the water as they set their sights on one goal – participating in a dragon boat race in Hong Kong, according to a feature story on news website HK01.com.

The dream started in early March, when a voluntary coach named Edwin got in touch with Filipino domestic worker Liza Avelino. Liza had taken part in dragon boat races in Discovery Bay for four years, and Edwin wanted to form a team made up entirely of Filipina domestic workers.

He said Liza worried about the funding but once they started recruitment, 53 domestic workers enrolled.

Would-be team members had to save hard to pay a membership fee of HK$650 (US$82), but that was just the start of the expensive process of establishing a dragon boat team. Members also had to secure enough money to pay for their coach and find funding for the rental of a dragon boat and paddles, as well as venue costs.

Edwin recalled that during the first few training sessions, members practiced barefoot as they did not have money to buy proper footwear.

The team launched a social media appeal for donations, and in the end, a French baby food company sponsored the team.

The team were joined by another Filipino, Jed, who had taken part in dragon boat races for five years, when he heard about the team a month before the race. He became the team’s voluntary coach, and thanks to sharing a native language with his crew, helped them develop skills quickly.

Despite benefiting from further help from other volunteer coaches who joined in the training, the team suffered a setback when organizers of the race they targeted rejected their application, claiming that the team was below necessary standards.

But the Filipino paddlers refused to give up and finally gained an entry for the Discovery Bay Dragon Boat Races & Carnival.

For three months, team members trained hard on their only rest day, while on work days they jogged to the market, and further exercised their muscles by lifting water buckets while doing household tasks.

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Filipino Dynamo Dragon Boat Team
Photo: Filipino Dynamo Dragon Boat Team@Facebook

Members of the team were said to be very excited about achieving their goal of participating in a race. They took particular pleasure from the fact that this year, instead of sitting on the sidelines cheering on other teams, they were able to take their places on their own dragon boat and join in the racing on the water.