LaLiga, Spain’s top professional football league, honored various Philippine organizations and sports in their very first ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ awards.
On February 2, 2023, LaLiga hosted their inaugural ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ gala night. Here, they awarded three different local sports projects that are making a difference for communities and causes in the Philippines.
Almudena Gomez, LaLiga’s delegate here in the Philippines, kicked off the evening with a warm welcoming message to the guests.
“We believe as a football league, it’s not only about the sport itself, it goes beyond that,” she said. “We wanted to celebrate the local projects here in the Philippines, so we embrace other sports here tonight.”
In partnership with Interporc, a non-profit entity that represents the entire Spanish white pork sector, the gala took place at Fairmont Hotel in Makati.
At the event, LaLiga’s distinguished guests and awardees were able to spend the evening celebrating their achievements, while enjoying a delicious meal prepared by award-winning Chef Chele Gonzalez, and Fairmont Hotel’s Executive Head Chef, Bella Rieck.
The evening culminated with the celebration of the honorary projects of the night. LaLiga awarded each one the honor of ‘Best Community Project,’ along with €1000 to help bolster their efforts.
Best Community Projects
LaLiga awarded three different projects and programs in the Philippines at their first ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ gala night.
The first award of the night went to the Best Community Project in Football: Gawad Kalinga and the US Embassy in Manila for their efforts in spreading climate change awareness through football.
The next awardee was recognized as the Best Community Project in Women’s Football, which was given to the Moran Foundation, the Philippine Football Federation, the MVP Sports Foundation, and Pinay5.
These organizations teamed up for their project, ‘Liga Eskwela’. Together, they have been able to introduce futsal to public schools around the country and create a national women’s futsal team to boost the sport further.
Finally, the third award was for the Best Community Project in Basketball. LaLiga granted this to the PBA, Rain or Shine, and TikTok Philippines for their ‘Daungan Cuatro Project.’
The Danguan Cuatro Project is an outreach program in Navota City, where these three groups turned over a renovated basketball court to the residents of the Danguan 4 community in Navotas City.
In addition to the awardees, other stakeholders in the sports industry, including sports journalists, correspondents, and star athletes, also graced the event.
With all the distinguished guests in the crowd, this was definitely an evening that celebrated sports for being more than just sports. As ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ shows, they can be used to develop and bring communities closer together.
More than Sports
As the very first ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ awards ceremony, Almudena Gomez shared with us that the idea for this project came about during the pandemic.
Now, with more opportunities to plan face-to-face events, and with the growing appetite for football among local fans and athletes, LaLiga has been executing its plans to help promote sports in the country.
“Football and sports in general teach you values when you’re growing up or practicing the sport, so we thought of awarding projects that are doing the same thing here in the Philippines,” she explained.
Gomez, as LaLiga’s delegate here in the Philippines, has been based locally for five years now. In that span of time, she has been working to grow their presence and impact in the country.
“We have a huge Filipino fanbase, and the appetite for football is growing in the Philippines,” she shared. With this, LaLiga has been pushing for this growth through several events for Filipino fans and athletes. This also includes grassroots programs in the sport, and other social projects to help with community development.
“For us, we are more than football,” she further expressed.
“It goes beyond the sport itself and we believe we have our responsibility, as such a big organization, to give back to the community.”
With their ‘Heroes Off the Pitch’ awards, granting these local projects more resources and acknowledgment to boost their efforts, LaLiga is certainly helping to not only push sports in the right direction but to develop the country as a whole.