The Wilde Blu Project continues its search of young and aspiring billiard players who could be the country’s next pool masters.
Initiated by Leslie ‘the AnitoKid of Billiards” Mapugay and Nino Lopez back in February 2019, Wild Blu Project started as a philanthropic program that advocates the proper development through training and discipline of young billiard players who possess the potential of not only achieving the greatness of Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes but at the same time finishing their formal education in learning institutions.
It is a non-profit, grassroots-level organization composed of volunteers and focused primarily on cue sports targeting young pocket billiard players, with ages ranging from 10 to 17 and coming from low-income families.
The team is handled by sponsors, volunteer supporters, and mentors willing to provide guidance and assistance to selected and talented junior players. It is an unselfish and dedicated program committed to helping junior billiard players develop their talent and skills in the pool table.
Since its inception, the program had already developed players who could be the future of the sport.
Among those are rising star junior player Bernie ‘Benok’ Regalario who has already signed a professional player sponsorship with Peri Cues in November of 2020 and young player Kayla C. Herrera who has made a name for herself by winning in various tournaments like the women’s division in the 1st Miguel Padilla Memorial 8-Ball Tournament in August of 2019, Girl’s division in the September 2019 District Meet in 8-ball and 9-ball, and the Girls’ division in the November 2019 Division meet for 8-ball and 9-ball.
Aside from the accomplishments in the sport, the program has also helped its players to finish their studies with junior players Dexter M. Barnido and NJ Asugue Perez being considered as the first batch from Wilde Blu Junior Team to graduate high school.
The sponsors and mentors help and assist the junior players develop their talent and skills. In return, the junior players are asked to stay out of trouble, honor and respect their parents, stay in school, and maintain a minimum school grade point average (GPA) of 80 percent.
The team has grown to 18 members: Earl Vincent Trinidad, Dartagnan Philippe Bonode, Jego Flores, Kayla C. Herrera, Elijah De Mesa, Bastien Olanda, Rey Calanao, Sofhia Rosales, Ian Cedrick Bayot, Jolo Aspuria, Dominic John Versoza, Dianne Jane Versoza, Ruben Quezona Bujawe II, Trix Carl Jamantron, Apollo M. Miranda, Anthony Figueroa, and Andrei Louise Manalo.
More official sponsors and supporters have eagerly joined the bandwagon. This includes HOW Brand, Kamui Brand, Ropa Commercial, South Cue Billiard Depot, Peri Cues, Aspire Billiards, Angel Custom Cues, JD Custom Cues, CPBA Cloth, DC Cues, AnitoKid of Billiards, MAPPA, Bilyarista.com, Jimenez Logistics and Solutions Inc., Pathfinder Gear, the Parashop Manila, and Hahn Manila.
Aside from Lopez and Mapugay, other mentors in the project includes Victor Arpilleda who acts as the team coach. Arpilleda is a SEA Games silver (1987) and gold (1997) medalist and is a former coach of the Indonesian Billiard Team in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.