Dr. Bernardo Villegas presented to the public his latest work, Philippine Football: Its Past, Its Future, in a book launch organized by the Center for Research and Communication at Amici Megamall on February 9, 2017. Philippine Football presents a history of the beautiful game in the country, and suggests a promising future for the sport through economic developments outlined by Dr. Villegas himself.
“The middle class has already grown to the point that there is a lot more disposable income, and thus more income for leisure,” Dr. Villegas said, speaking on the “Economics of Football” at the launch. “If you organize a marathon, people will come.” He likewise cited the incredible support for the Azkals as an influencing factor in the sport’s growth.
The launch also saw talks from Atty. Edwin B. Gastanes, General Secretary of the Philippine Football Federation. He presented the results of Nielsen’s market research on football in the country, as well as the mechanics for the soon-to-be established Philippines Football League. Also present was Mr. Alberto Ramirez, editor and contributor to the book, who spoke about his experience as a sports journalist over the years. Other contributors to the book include sports journalists Bill Velasco, Rick Olivares, Manolo Pedralvez, and Ignacio Dee, and UA&P coach Dr. Stella Marie Urbiztondo.
The event received strong support from the local football community, as key members of the Philippine Football Federation, including President Mariano Araneta Jr. and Treasurer Juan Miguel Romualdez, joined in the celebration. Mr. Danny Moran, formerly a member of the Philippine national football team and currently President of Amici Foodservice Ventures, as well as a strong backer of grassroots football, provided the venue and refreshments. The event was also graced by Argentinean Ambassador Roberto Bosch, whose embassy helped inspire the UA&P Ambassadors Cup 2014 and 2015, bringing together various embassies to “adopt” youth futsal players in a World Cup-style tournament.
Following the event, Ramirez took to Facebook to endorse the work further: “It is a platform that has never been tried before, and we certainly hope that preaching the sport through the book will go a long way towards enabling football to take its rightful place in the firmament of games Filipinos love with a passion.” Philippine Football will be available in Fully Booked, National Book Store, and Powerbooks for Php 650.
– Mio Borromeo