The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) along with media rights distributor Mediapro Asia, score big after securing Mastercard as a major sponsor for the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will be hosted in the Philippines.
The deal has been formally completed during a media event and signing ceremony held in Shangri-La at the Fort, Taguig attended by Mediapro Asia Managing Director Lars Heidenreich, Mastercard Philippines Country Manager Rowell Del Fierro, and PHISGOC Director of Support and Operations Jojit Alcazar.
“As the appointed sponsorship agent for the SEA Games, we are excited to announce Mastercard as an exclusive category sponsor, joining other partners who are also leaders in their respective categories to support this Philippines milestone Games and most important sporting event across South East Asia in 2019,” said Mr. Lars Heidenreich.
Mastercard’s sponsorship will not be limited only to the 2019 SEA Games as it also includes the ASEAN Para Games which will be held in early 2020. Along with the sponsorship for the games, Mastercard will also power the official mobile app of the biennial regional sporting event which will provide updates in all the different sports. These will be in addition to providing their core offering of cashless transactions for purchases related to the SEA Games such as match-tickets and other in-venue services.
In line with being sponsors, Mastercard aims to provide upcoming exclusive privileges for its cardholders such as early access in purchasing premium seats before tickets go on sale to the general public.
“While Mastercard lends its technical expertise to the Games with the goal of paving the way for the Philippines to be a cash-lite society, it also wants to provide an opportunity for Filipinos to come together to support the nation and its athletes and to Start Something Priceless,” said Mastercard Country Manager to the Philippines, Rowell Del Fierro.
The 30th SEA Games are set to commence in November 30, 2019. The Philippines will serve as hosts in the biennial tournament, the fourth time that it has taken up such a role in the regional sporting event.
The 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) will be hosted by the Philippines in the latter part of 2019 with men’s football as the biggest team sports that almost all participating nations are going to vie for with much fervor.
With limitations of teams only allowed to be comprised Under-22 players (with the exception of two overaged players) and the competition not falling within the FIFA international break, most senior Azkals (even if their ages falls well within SEAG eligibility) won’t be able to participate in this tournament due to club commitments. Despite these constraints, the Philippine SEAG football team, under the reins of Azkals manager Dan Palami, are preparing to assemble its strongest squad yet as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Such an undertaking and campaign could prove seminal, if successful, as a template for organizing junior national teams for future tournaments.
Beginning mid-August, the Azkals management already held several days of open tryouts which were participated by several top junior prospects and hopefuls, both based locally and abroad.
And during the past September FIFA international break, right when the senior Azkals squad is in the middle of its World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualification campaigns, the initial shortlist of players for the 2019 SEAG were training in Manila.
Despite the early preparations, the task at hand is a monumental one, not only due to the fact that Azkals Management team has been tapped to be involved, but because the junior squad needs to turn its recent fortunes around as well for the better – something which is easier said than done.
THE HARD TRUTH
At the moment, in contrast to the leaps and bounds that the Azkals have achieved in terms of its relative profile in international football, the Philippine junior squads particularly the U-22 and U-23 still have a lot to do in order to close the gap to its other Southeast Asian counterparts.
Recent results by our youth squads have not been so encouraging, as the federation also recently took steps to improve talent identification and development at this level.
However, with the current system of youth football here in the country where the highest level still lies in the collegiate varsity leagues, it is still a far cry to the Philippines’ neighboring footballing nations where the best talents are honed within club system through academies and youth squads.
As the SEAG kicks off, surely traditional powerhouses and contenders will field young players coming from of either academy or club reserves from locally renowned clubs or even first team sensations (not to mention the additional two overage players who are likely to be veteran professionals).
These athletes that the Filipino U-22 SEAG squad will go up against already seasoned footballers, despite their young age, who are experiencing frequent, season-long and grinding competitive football at a high level making it a daunting proposition for the Philippine squad.
Hence, despite the promise and optimism that goes with a tried and tested Azkals management team being directly involved in the preparation of the SEAG men’s football team, expectations still should be tempered with healthy dose of realism.
Given that the U-22 Philippine SEAG squad will be made up mostly of varsity players from various colleges and universities reinforced with some standout youths from the Philippines Football League and two overage players, demanding for a medal finish will be too premature.
With the very high-level of competition and the high-stakes involved when given the profile of the sport, particularly for footballing nations, surviving the group and reaching the semifinals (matching the 1991 edition in Manila) for the Filipinos in Men’s Football will already be considered a resounding success and anything higher than would be a miraculous bonus.
A better expectation from the Philippine Men’s Football Team this 2019 SEAG for sports fans is to avoid lopsided losses. In this stage, with the preparation that is being done and the fact that the biennial tournament will be hosted in the Philippines, national pride is at stake for all sporting events – and that includes football. So a good account of our representatives in terms of competency level should be paramount. The least the Filipinos could expect is for the team to give a good fight.
Grinding out draws against contenders, winning against non-regional powerhouses should be the results to expect from the squad. If losses are inevitable they should not be without a fight. Such factors should be the ones considered as the more rational of expectations.
Basing on what would be the outcome of the Philippines’ campaign in men’s football this 2019 SEAG, if reaching the semifinals is achieved, then it can be considered that the Azkals management’s direct involvement in the junior squad has obvious positive effects and should continue on.
2019 SEAG is definitely going to be big for Philippine Football as this could serve as either a turning point, an indicator, or an eye-opener for our country’s state in the sport at the developmental level.
Spain’s top-flight football club competition, LaLiga, has begun to turn the wheels for 2019/2020 season which is being considered to be its grandest yet in celebration of its 90-years of existence as one of the best domestic leagues in the footballing world.
In a kick-off event for the Philippine media held last September 2, 2019 in Makati, the league represented by Almudena Gomez Benito (Global Network Delegate for the Philippines) and Ivan Codina (Managing Director for Southeast Asia – Australia, Japan and South Korea), LaLiga presented what football fans are about to expect in its biggest season yet in terms of technical scope.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
Already providing one of the most cutting-edge fan experiences in professional club football (who can forget those cool 360 degree replays?), LaLiga continues to raise the bar for the recently started 2019/2020 season as it further implements improvements in broadcasting technology from the number of cameras (including super slow-motion viewing angles) up to the auditory experience with the introduction of Dolby Atmos and 4K video quality broadcast in select matches.
The league, considered by many as arguably the strongest in relation to historical performances of its representatives in international club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup, featuring the most successful clubs ever to grace the sport with the likes of Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, and Sevilla FC to name a few is set to give a treat this season to football followers as it starts to usher in its most ambitious year yet in terms of viewer experience.
A NEW “HEART OF LALIGA”
A new element that gets added in the 2019/2020 season is the new ball that fans will see in matches in a new deal Puma Football as the new match ball supplier.
The development is significant as LaLiga has been supplied by a different brand for the past several years, making the switch both exciting and bold as it provides a new flavor on the pitch ushering something fresh to loyal fans through the years.
AN EXCITING SEASON UNFOLDING
Despite the new season just being in its third match day, based on what transpired in all of the fixtures involved, the race to the top could turn out to be an interesting one.
Bannered by its young gem and new signing Joao Felix, head coach Diego Simeone and the rest of Atletico de Madrid find themselves in first place of the standings followed by a seemingly rejuvenated Athletic Bilbao and an always threatening Sevilla FC.
With Real Madrid at fifth and Barcelona in an unfamiliar eighth place due to upsets and unexpected draws, the chase is on for the big clubs as they try to regain their respective footings with the possibility of more surprise results in store.
2019-20 season is definitely poised to be an interesting marathon as who will find themselves at the summit come the its conclusion.
ALPHONSE AREOLA RETURNS TO LALIGA
France’s emerging star goalkeeper, who is of Filipino origin from both parents, just joined Real Madrid for a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain.
With his Filipino heritage, such a move back to Spain by the former Villarreal shot-stopper in the club with probably the biggest profile and history, could further boost LaLiga in the eyes of Filipino sports fans.
The optimism in this loan-move, as one of the best footballing talents in the world who traces his roots to the Philippines, could definitely add interest to the Southeast Asian nation.
SEGUNDA DIVISION IN YOUTUBE
Meanwhile, Spain’s second-tier, the Segunda Division, formally named as LaLiga SmartBank, will be available for live streaming in Youtube in selected countries.
What is good about this move and partnership by the league with Youtube is the Philippines is one of the countries that have free access to these matches and content.
Featuring storied clubs such as Deportivo La Coruna, Racing Santander, Malaga, and Real Zaragoza, along with other clubs that make up a productive conveyor belt of the biggest talents in football access to this quality league is a boon for Filipino football fans who have teams to root for in the second division.
BEST SEASON EVER?
Considering the very promising 2019/2020 LaLiga Santander season as the best ever, is quite premature at this moment from a sporting level, but with the improvements in terms of the technical aspects in presentation, and the accessibility of LaLiga SmartBank for Filipino football fans – not to mention Alphonse Areola’s on-boarding with Real Madrid, it can be said that this young season is already the best in these criteria.
It’s definitely a great way to celebrate 90-years of amazing football, which all began back in 1929.
Now it’s time to calendar those crucial matchdays and enjoy the as Spain’s best clubs fight for the title!
Key LaLiga matches for the remainder of 2019
September 9 – Madrid Derby (Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid)
October 20 – South Madrid Derby (Getafe CF vs CD Leganes)
October 27 – El Clasico (Barcelona vs Real Madrid)
November 10 – Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC)
December 8 – Valencia Derby (Levante UD vs Valencia CF)
LaLiga Santander is available in the Philippines through BeIn Sports App or via BeIn channels in cable or satellite TV services that include the channel/s via subscription. LaLiga SmartBank matches can be viewed live via Youtube’s streaming services.