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1ST MASTERS GAMES LAUNCHES

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By Patrick Lujan

The first-ever Guam Masters Games kicked off Sunday night at the Leo Palace Hotel with most of week-long participants on hand.

“Launching this was important to give birth to something we hope will grow into the biggest tourist sporting event on Guam,” Tropical Production President E.J. Calvo said.

“This is something I’ve dreamed about since Alice Springs (Masters Games) 20 some years ago,” event organizer Benny Bello said. “I always knew that Guam can host such an event.”

Benny Bello

Action starts Monday morning with tennis events at the Hilton Tennis Courts. Five other sports – basketball, baseball, running, golf and grappling – are all slated for this week that will culminate in the Closing Ceremonies next Sunday.

“We started with six sports and there’s no doubt we can go to 10 sports the next time,” Calvo said, with plans to make the event every other year.

Sports Tourism

An angle the organizers are trying to tap is sports tourism. Guam sends Masters teams throughout the world where they spend money in local communities. Calvo feels it’s time Guam is the recipient of such an event.

“This Masters Games draws a sports tourist that is more attractive than most because they are usually professionals, older, they bring family and friends, and they are here to enjoy themselves too. They got more money in their pocket,” Calvo said.

“A big thing is showing the off-island athletes how organized the events are and gives them confidence how organized the Games will go.”

Some of the tennis competitors come out for the opening of the Guam Masters Games. (photo by Patrick Lujan Jr.)

Sports Legends

Some of Guam’s sports legends were on hand, including basketball’s Ray Topasna, Larry Fejeran and John Cruz; baseball’s Jimmy Pangelinan and Milan Borja; tennis’ Rick Ninete; golf’s Bill Reyes; and grappling’s Melchor Manibusan.

Go to guammasters.com for more information.

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