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Miami Overseas Chinese Association



MasterCard Miami’s MasterDragons
Bring Home the Gold

MasterCard Miami’s corporate dragon boat racing team wins first prize at dragon boat racing festival

The challenge: To synchronize a 20 person team on a 40 foot long boat in the world’s second fastest outdoor sport with less than three months to practice.

The result: MasterCard’s MasterDragons win first prize!

On Saturday, May 5, MasterCard’s dragon boat racing team, the MasterDragons, competed against 12 other corporate teams, winning first place at the 4th Annual Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat Racing Festival in the Corporate Finance/Banking Division.

The team, made up of cross-departmental paddlers, from marketing to products, from advisors to finance, from corporate communications to member relations, was born in February 2007 – less than three months before the big race.

“I had been thinking about creating a corporate team for some time. I thought it would be a great team building exercise that would not only motivate the staff to work out but also enjoy the outdoors and bring comradeship to the office,” said Sonia Manrique, Team Captain and Chief of Staff for LAC Regional Key Accounts.

Against all odds, the 18 paddlers, representing MasterCard LAC, demonstrated dedication and sense of team by practicing weekly on Saturday mornings - slowly improving their strategy, technique, speed and teamwork.

“Dragon boat racing is a sport that entirely exemplifies the meaning of teamwork,” continued Manrique. “It is absolutely critical that all paddlers are in sync, not only with the partner next to you but also with all paddlers in front and behind you... and it is not easy. Without that teamwork, the boat won't move, or even worse, it can heel/tilt,” concluded Manrique.

“After spending Saturday mornings working together, learning to depend on each other to increase our synchronization and speed we have created a bond in the office that has permeated into our working relationships – not only among the team but with all employees who have supported our efforts,” said Irma Rosales, Advisors, MasterCard LAC.

After 12 hours and three separate 250-meter competitions the MasterDragons anxiously awaited the results.

“It was a close race... after the first two heats, we were behind HSBC by .67th of a second, so we knew we had a real chance to win it. It was such an intense and exciting moment and it was pure adrenaline to see everybody on the boat giving it their all during the third heat,” said Luigino Kaisenberger, Advisors, MasterCard LAC.

The results were in: First Place... MasterCard’s MasterDragons.

“When they called our names, I couldn’t believe it. All our hard work and dedication became reality. We felt so proud to go to work on Monday because the support and recognition we’ve received from our co-workers has added so much value to our hard work,” said Martin Koo MasterCard LAC.

“After close to a 14-hour day, being on stage with the MasterCard team was one of the most incredible feelings,” said Carlos Zuluaga, Senior Consultant, GTO TAM, MasterCard LAC. “Overcoming this challenge made us feel that we can overcome anything that comes our way – if we work together as a team,” concluded Zuluaga.

Teamwork isn’t all the MasterDragons exemplified. With support from Miami office employees and MasterCard’s donation matching program, the team raised over $1,200 for the Joan G. Gaines Breast Cancer Research fund – where 100% of proceeds go directly to funding cancer research programs.

“We are so proud of this accomplishment. Not only did the MasterDragons demonstrate team spirit but leadership in serving our community,” said Richard Hartzell, President, MasterCard LAC.

Meet the MasterDragons

Armando Alemany
Sebastian Barletta
Alina Dalmau
Paulo Fernandes
Carlos Fonseca
Celia Garcia
Patricio Hernandez
Luigino Kaiserberger
Martin Koo
Carlos Molina
Irma Rosales
Adriana Deben
Arturo Saldana
Juan Santaella
Manolo Zubiria
Carlos Zuluaga
Gisselle Zuniga
Sonia Manrique


Sidebar Item: Traditionally, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient Chinese poet, Qu Yuan who lived from 340-278 B.C.

Sidebar Item: The race was 250 meters, where winners were determined

MasterCard’s MasterDragons Team After Winning the first race – leading them to 1st Place in the Corporate Finances Division at the Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat festival.
(From left to right: Luigino Kaiserberger, Drummer, Sonia Manrique, Team Captain, Sebastian Barletta, Gisselle Zuniga, Martin Koo, Carlos Molina, Carlos Angel, Ricardo Casco, Manolo Zubiria, Daniel Andrade, Arturo Saldaña, Emilio Castro, Paulo Fernandes, Carlos Zuluaga, Juan Santaella, Celia Garcia, Irma Rosales, Carlos Andres Zuluaga, Juan Pablo Zuluaga, Edith Silva, Nicolas Velez)

Team MasterDragons

Left to right (first row): Juan Pablo Zuluaga, Gisselle Zuniga, Juan Santaella, Manolo Zubiria; (second row): Carlos Andres Zuluaga, Arturo Sandana, Sebastian Barletta, Celia Garcia, Edith Silva, Sonia Manrique, Kim Hangok, Irma Rosales, Luigino Kaiserberger; (third row) Emilio Castro, Daniel Andrade, Carlos Zuluaga, Martin Koo, Paulo Fernandes, Carlos Molina, Ricardo Casco, Nicolas Velez, Carlos Angel.

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