Although largely considered as a western sport, Football is a sport that has recently been making waves in the Philippines. Owing to the popularity of the Philippine Azkals Team as well as the proliferation of football fields all over Philippine metropolitans, Football is now widely recognized as a sport in the country with some individuals even engaging in the sport in their free-time. Resultantly, to accommodate the surge in participants of the sport, football fields have started cropping up. In fact, the Circuit Makati Blue Pitch which is one of the football fields in Makati just recently opened to better cater to football enthusiasts in the metropolis.
Admittedly, Filipinos are more invested in watching NBA (National Basketball Association) than they are with FIFA. In fact, only a slew of individuals would consider themselves as football fanatics and enthusiasts with majority of the country rooting for the latest basketball star rather than keeping their eyes peeled for the next football legend. However, before the nation was afflicted with the hoops fever and before basketball engulfed the nation and became the national pastime, the Philippines was an Asian football powerhouse. This was before the era of football fields in Makati or elsewhere and the legendary Azkals.
Before there was even a single football field in Makati, football was the most loved and watched sport in the world. In fact, hordes upon hordes of avid fans would arrive in stadiums by the droves on a game day. Heated matches were always the talk of the town and a high profile match between two of the top teams in the world would easily sell out stadium tickets to accommodate a hundred thousand fans. Unfortunately, this phenomenon left a majority of other fans bereft of a ticket, so the unlucky ones would have to settle for watching it live on TV.
In this regard, local and national TV networks who streamed and aired the game live could easily rack up anywhere between a million or more audiences consequently bumping up their viewership. However, it begs the question: How does a sport so widely viewed get poor reception in the Philippines? After all, if you saw a crazed football crowd in one of the most highlighted matches, you would notice how the audience headcount in the football field would easily outnumber that number of fans in a basketball stadium. So, what happened?
One of the reasons why football as a sport was not readily welcomed nor were Filipinos receptive to playing it was the fact that it was a sport associated with the rich. In fact, regardless of the many advancements made in the sport or the fact that we now have a football field in Makati, the sport still carries with it the stigma of being a hobby exclusive to the affluent few. The Philippines, being a third-world country, would easily find it far easier to play basketball rather than play football. After all, erecting makeshift basketball rings is so much more doable than looking for an empty lot to play football in. For this reason, basketball courts have vastly outnumbered football fields in Makati or elsewhere in Manila.
To set up a suitable area where you can play basketball, one does not really need to invest too much time, effort nor money even. A few pieces of beaten up wood, as well as unused bent metal, can be put together then nailed on a random tree and voila, your very own basketball hangout! Unfortunately, this kind of makeshift court setup is not as prevalent in football.
Back in the day where a football field in Makati or anywhere else in Manila would be something considered unorthodox, the only way you can ever practice the sport is if you studied in a lofty upper-class school or travel to the nearest sports complex. A pitch is quite costly to make and maintain—more importantly, it takes up way too much space rendering it virtually impossible to enthuse locals about the sport.
As a Spanish colony, it would be inevitable to have football as the primary sport of the Philippines. In fact, the Philippine Football Federation dates as back as 1907 with the first-ever football tournament (Far Eastern Games) in Asia held in the country in the year 1913. This was the year that the Philippines beat China for the championship with a score of 2-1—and this was the time before there were even any football fields in Makati or elsewhere in Metro Manila. If Manchester United had David Beckham, the Philippines had their own legendary football player as well.
Back in the day, a man who hailed from Iloilo City by the name of Paulino Alcantara was one of the most celebrated and revered football players in the world. Given the moniker “The Net Breaker, Paulino Alcantara went on to score 369 goals in 357 appearances in his entire footballing career. Resultantly, he would then later hold on to the FC Barcelona’s (a prestigious and celebrated club) highest goal scoring record for a total of 87 years.
The progressive rise of football in the Philippines would eventually start to decline once America took over the country as the new colonial rulers. Over time, the sport was ignored, overlooked and each day, it started to diminish little by little. It was also through those years wherein the basketball sport was first introduced by the Americans to the Filipinos—a beloved sport that has remained ever so popular until this very day with many locals supporting NBA basketball stars and rooting for their teams.
However, with the proliferation of football fields in Makati and Metro Manila coupled with the Azkals rise to global prominence, it would not be long before football will become a recognized and loved sport once more. Admittedly, this cannot happen overnight but the little signs of progress made each day, month or year contributes to the cause. Besides, Filipino football enthusiasts can now play to their heart’s content with Circuit Makati’s new footballing facility.
Circuit Makati Blue Pitch is one of three sporting facilities in Circuit Makati, occupying 10,000 sqm.
It is the first FIFA-sized blue football field in the Philippines, measuring 64.5 x 105 meters. Designed with international standards, Circuit Makati Blue Pitch has an eye-catching detail you can’t miss: the blue artificial grass, which has the official color of the British football team, Chelsea FC.
With the Makati Skyline in the background, Circuit Makati Blue Pitch is equipped with floodlights for training sessions and matches held in the evenings. It also includes additional markings for two seven-a-side pitches.
This football field provides access to high-quality facilities and training. With more stakeholders supporting football, Circuit Makati Blue Pitch is a major venue to promote and develop the sport.
Circuit Makati Blue Pitch was designed in partnership with the Chelsea Football Club Soccer School Philippines and Gatorade-Pepsi. It is located in Circuit Makati, a 21-hectare mixed-use development on the former Sta. Ana Racetrack property of the Philippine Racing Club Inc. (PRCI). Circuit Makati is poised to be the unequivocal destination for all things entertainment, with its world-class indoor theater multipurpose entertainment spaces and open grounds integrated with commercial, hotel and residential blocks.