Role highlighted anew

Role highlighted anew

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

AIMED at raising the current state of Philippine football, various stakeholders recently gathered to discuss and find ways to achieve the end goal of making “the beautiful game” better appreciated and further grown in the country.

“The Business of Football – Philippines,” organized by MMC Sportz Asia and sanctioned by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), was held on May 18 at the New World Makati Hotel.

The one-day conference put in one room key stakeholders of the football community in the Philippines from the rights holders, football clubs, agencies, brands, media, retail, real estate, and the fans where they got to discuss the headways made in local football in the last few years and the potential of it to further grow.

One oft-cited component of Philippine football growth during the conference was the role that the private sector plays in it.

The various speakers invited did not fail to mention how support from companies and private individuals would go a long way in making football popular among Filipinos.

“Filipino football needs a lot of support. And with events like this conference we can identify where the support can come from. We really have to make other people and businesses be aware that football in the country is worth supporting,” said longtime Philippine Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami, who spoke of his experience as team head since taking the job nearly a decade ago.

His sentiment was shared by Asian Football Confederation official Domeka Garamendi, underscoring the kind of impact an “involved” private sector can have on football growth even as he said that possible partners should also be reassured that their involvement would not go to waste.

“When we talk about stakeholders the private sectors is one of them. It plays a major part. Funding comes from them. So you really need companies to come in to make things sustainable,” Mr. Garamendi shared to BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the one-day conference.

“Of course, in turn, you have to show them you deserve their support. You have to give them the numbers and facts which is why fan engagement is very important. Fans bring in the money especially in a league. If you don’t have fans, you don’t have revenues,” said the AFC official, who spoke of the importance of professional football in the Philippines.

For PFF General Secretary Edwin Gastanes, moves to engage the private sector to come on board have slowly gained ground but admitted a lot more can be done.

“MVP Sports Foundation is helping us already and so is Smart Communications. But we need more especially in the youth teams and the women’s teams and those in the league (Philippines Football League) because those are vacant,” Mr. Gastanes said in a separate interview.

“What I fear is that foreign brands would come ahead of our local brands and then we cannot give them (locals) those prized spots, let’s say for advertisements, and other benefits. So local brands really have to seize the opportunity,” he added.

Mr. Gastanes went on to say that there is still lingering problems but also there are steady demand for football and the upside is strong.

“Problems are there but the demand for football is also there. The PFF has funds coming from different sources but admittedly these are not enough. So we need the help of the private sector, private individuals and companies who believe that the sport can be grown in the country. If you invest in football, be it as a sponsor of a team or the league or building facilities or supporting grassroots programs, you won’t regret it. It has been proven in other countries,” said the PFF official.