March 13, 2024

Begelton Giving Back in the Philippines

Reggie Begelton did not expect to be 13,333 km from home at the beginning of the month, but when asked to represent the Stampeders as a CFL ambassador for World Vision Canada, he couldn’t refuse.

“It truly came out of nowhere,” admitted the all-star receiver.

“World Vision is a humanitarian mission group that the CFL has partnered with, and Kyla (Findlay), who is a former head coach for the Outriders, asked me to be an ambassador to represent the Calgary Stampeders and the CFL.

“There is one person from each of the nine teams that get picked and thankfully I was blessed to get picked for the Stampeders.”

From March 2-10, Begelton, and fellow CFL ambassadors Tim White (Tiger-Cats), Nic Demski (Blue Bombers), and Marc-Antoine Dequoy (Alouettes) travelled to the Philippines to visit children and families supported by World Vision Canada in a community in Camarines Sur.

The players participated in activities such as joining the students in a reading session and learning to play Filipino games such as patintero and tumbang preso. They also taught the children how to play football.

“The biggest thing was to try and get first-hand insight of what exactly this group does for the community in the Philippines and other places around the world,” he said. “The Philippines is just one of the places (World Vision) supports. They’re actually heading to Kenya in a few days.”

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Reggie Begelton reading to a student at school.

“The first day in the field, we went to the schools and truthfully that was an awesome experience because the kids are so well-mannered, and they continue to always have a smile on their face no matter what the circumstances are,” said Begelton.

“Going from the schools, we went to some of the kids’ homes and to see what they sleep in everyday will actually make you draw tears.

“There’s nothing but a hut, with rocky floors. The one family I personally visited has six in a home on one twin-sized mattress. All they have is that bedroom and you go across a wooden wall and there’s a makeshift kitchen. That’s the whole house, and they’ve been living in that house for 36 years.”

Reggie Begelton (right) and Marc-Antoine Dequoy (middle) visiting a family’s home in Camarines Sur.

“On day two,” he said, “we went to another school and learned about some of their local games, and we played with the kids.”

“It took us a little bit to get the game because of the language barrier, but once we did it was a lot of fun.

“After that it was our turn and we tried to teach them football and they picked it up pretty well. One thing they did learn,” he added with a laugh, “is that it requires a lot of conditioning.”

“This school is the largest school on the island. It has about 1,500 kids, and we can’t teach all 1,500 how to play football so we had the 12 basketball players, and we organized a makeshift game that way.

“Those kids are so genuine and were so happy just to meet us, and it was really fun.”

Reggie Begelton teaching and playing football with students in the Philippines.

In addition to visiting the children and schools, the players explored other communities in the Philippines that World Vision supports.

“Each section of the island has their own trade and in this particular trade they make brooms from scratch,” explained Begelton. “It’s a process because they make it out of this certain type of grass called ‘tiger grass.’ The quality of the grass dictates how much money you can make off it.

“What we learned is you can make about 30 brooms a day and it all depends on what the demand is.

“We went to a fishing village next, and we figured out how this section makes their money. World Vision supplies them with boats to catch giant squid, which is their main source of income.

“World Vision Philippines has created a way to feed families by making their own sardine dish that they supply in a jar. Sardines are the other thing they catch aside from giant squid, but with sardines you have to eat it right then and there. They’ve made a way where you can preserve sardines in a jar, kind of how it is here in the States with cans.

“The final day we visited the agricultural section, where World Vision helps supply pigs so they can sell them at the market for income.”

Reggie Begelton learning the art of broom-making.

“The fact that we as human beings tend to be a product of (our) environment, it puts it into perspective that there is an entirely different world out there and truthfully, your problems, the problems you think you have at home, I can almost guarantee you it’s nothing compared to what is going on in those countries,” said Begelton.

“Us being out in the field, we are able to bring back what we saw and experienced to the communities here at home. You’ll see commercials on TV, or ads and social media, and it’s like ‘Hey, look at the kids, donate here,’. Well, now we are able to vouch for that and really give our testimonies of what we saw and how these people are living.

“It makes you want to continue to express gratitude and be willing to help and give any way you can, because a little goes a long, long way. The CAD, the USD, everything there helps out so much. It’s not expensive to live there but it’s hard to make money.”

The recipient of the 2023 Herm Harrison Memorial Award, Begelton has a deep passion for giving back to the community.

The 30-year-old product of Beaumont, Tex., is a regular participant in the Every Yard Counts program as he and several of his teammates visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital the day before every home game to spend time with young patients in the Ronald McDonald House and ICU units.

Begelton also participated in the Learn to Play program, helping coach flag football to kids aged 5 to 15. He was also involved in a KidsPlay football program for the South Asian and New Canadian communities.

In addition, Begelton supported numerous local charities and organizations such as Tim Hortons Camp Days, Wellsprings Alberta and the Salvation Army Coat Drive with visits and social-media posts.