For a long time, if you tried to look if football held a place in the Philippines, more often than not, you wouldn't find much evidence. Despite having produced Paulino Alcantara, a Filipino who held the record for most goals scored (which stood for 87 years) at the legendary club FC Barcelona, there wasn't much that connected the Philippines to the world of football. It wasn’t until 2009 when we saw the start of “The Renaissance of Filipino Football" as Dan Palami took on the responsibility of managing the national team as he brought in a new drive to the team as well as funds and investments from his own pockets.
Palami brought in new, better talent that included several foreign-born Filipinos such as the Younghusband brothers, an aspect that brought in many new supporters who were interested to see the developments in Filipino Football. Since then, football’s popularity in the Philippines continues to rise just as the community continues to grow while introducing more and more aspects to football in the Philippines such as the several football leagues and youth clubs as well as the introduction (and improvement) of newer and better facilities for all to use. This photo essay aims to showcase the culture of football in the Philippines through it’s diversity and growth.
With the National Team (nicknamed The Azkals) as well as the Philiippines' own collegiate and professional leagues being televised, football has gained a great amount of exposure and has increased it's popularity in the country. More Filipinos seem to be getting interested in trying football for themselves at a young age and there are many opportunities for them to get into the sport. Professional Clubs like Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks have created their own youth divisions, as well as an abundance of schools forming their own varsity teams, and even entirely new football camps like Futbol Funatics being created just to give the youth an opportunity to compete and train.
As more and more new fans of football begin to emerge, old fans seem to re-emerge as well. Among all the youth players, sometimes you may see their parents playing alongside them. Just this year, the Weekend Futbol League (the non-professional tournament for more casual teams and players) has opened up a "Veterans Division" for teams aged 37 and older as there seemed to be an abundance of players well into their older years still playing against younger ones who were fresh out of college and in their prime.