What’s the biggest dream you’ve ever had? Maybe when you were little you dreamt of becoming a millionaire, or a famous celebrity. Maybe you were one of those kids who was always told, “You can’t do that!” or even worse, “That’s impossible!” The older we get, the smaller our dreams become, after years and years of running into obstacles and roadblocks along the way. But what if you held on to that dream of yours? That’s when things start to happen.
There are three things that define the most successful people – their limitless capacity to dream, their tenacity and determination to keep believing in what they want, and their drive to keep moving towards the goal of making their dream a reality, even if it’s just one step at a time. It becomes your passion. Two of our best examples of this truth: siblings Kennie and Kennevic Asuncion, Philippine badminton legends, both as mentors and as athletes.
Coach Kennie, who started playing badminton at age 4, shares that even during her early years she already knew she wanted to become a world champion someday, because she discovered her love for badminton so early on in life. “I was only a “salingpusa” in training… [but when I turned 13] I started training literally every day, no holidays, no vacationing, but it didn’t matter because I wanted it that way,” she shares. It was the same for her brother, who started when he was 5 years old. “I super loved training and all the hard work,” Coach Kennevic says. “First, you have to love what you do. Second, you train hard.”
Their passion for the sport and their efforts to train hard paid off – in 1997, Coach Kennie, along with Amparo Lim, was the first Philippine entry in the women’s doubles category to reach the quarterfinals at the three-star Vietnam Open. She was the first bronze medalist in the individual event of the women’s doubles at the 19th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and the first bronze medalist for the Philippines at the US Open in California. As for Coach Vic, he became the first bronze medalist in the men’s singles and mixed doubles at the Bangkok Open and won the Philippine’s first silver medal during the 11th Asian University Games for the men’s singles individual.
From little kids playing for fun, they became two of the most prominent badminton players in Philippine history, breaking records and bagging medals right and left. It’s a mindset – believe in your dream with all your heart and commit to making it a reality. “If you love something, you don’t just throw it away easily,” says Coach Kennie. “No matter how hard you fall, the important thing is getting up again… [in a badminton match we always focus on] getting one point at a time, every game,” Coach Kennevic shares, citing that it is important to keep your eyes on your main goal despite the difficulties that arise.
“I truly give credit back to my dad who was also our coach,” Coach Kennie continues. “[When I get discouraged] he’d talk some sense into me then I’d be back on track.” Coach Nelson Asuncion, their father, has been a dedicated and passionate advocate of badminton for the past 40 years. Part of his legacy in badminton’s history in the country is the Asuncion Badminton Center (ABC), one of the best badminton centers in the Philippines today.
Their commitment to badminton goes above and beyond excelling as athletes. Today, the Asuncion siblings are the head coaches of the International School Manila (ISM) badminton team, the UAAP varsity badminton team of the Ateneo de Manila University, and the Golden Shuttle Foundation team, a badminton team who trains at ABC. “I still dream of seeing a Filipino badminton player in the podium for a World Championship or even the Olympics,” says Coach Kennie. “All the challenges [of coaching] I take with open arms and hope that I can produce even better athletes and better people that will go out there in the world.”
“Being a coach is a different challenge [from being a player],” Coach Kennevic says. He emphasizes that it is imperative that players learn to love the sport first before training competitively. They train them hard and give them as much exposure as possible internationally to hone their skills. One of the best parts of being a coach is seeing your players succeed, after all. “I wanted to bring out the best in [our players]. We worked hard together, cried and laughed together but everything was always worth it when you see them get to their goals or exceed their own expectations. Being a coach is more tiring because sometimes a lot of things are beyond our control but when the players give their full trust and belief in you… you also want to give it back to them and make sure you are able to give your best for them as well,” Coach Kennie shares.
The Asuncions are a major part of the movement that sparked the popularity of badminton in the Philippines. Today, they continue to work hard to promote badminton, even producing a TV show-turned-magazine, Badminton Extreme. “We feel [the magazine] is more long-term, people can go back to it at any time for reference… [Our goal is] bringing badminton to the people, making it accessible for them, with a personal touch,” Coach Kennie shares. Apart from their magazine, they organize badminton tournaments, and even hold matches with celebrities like Richard Gomez and Iya Villania!
The Asuncion Badminton Center celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with a special program. “We felt that we had to give back more as we’ve always felt we are very blessed. The sport gave us not only a good record in the sport but also an overall formation of character that made us face life’s challenges with a good fighting spirit,” Coach Kennie says. Thus, they launched a badminton program for street children in partnership with Virlaine Foundation last January 2014. “By the summer, when our summer training is in full force, they are joining other paying students and are able to make new friends,” she says, proud of her students’ achievement. “The kids were fast learners as they were very enthusiastic and eager to know more.”
With a passion that is both driving force and motivation, the Asuncions have dedicated their lives to badminton in a way that is undeniably inspirational. It truly goes to show that big dreams and hard work can produce unimaginably amazing results. Though they dreamed of becoming badminton champions, they became so much more than that – they have shaped Philippine badminton history and touched countless lives along the way. As Coach Nelson Asuncion would always say, “Dream your dream and do your best. Never doubt and never rest until that dream is yours.”