IN the Philippines where basketball is considered a religion next to Catholicism, Filipinos are hesitant to venture to lesser-known sports or in some occasions, don’t know how and where to start.
The reason? Unavailability and inaccessibility.
Due to bevy of indoor courts and outdoor makeshift rims scattered even in the remotest part of the archipelago and through commercialization of the sport, basketball was instilled to kids very early.
When one asks them why, they would probably say it is the influence of the fancied athletic and high-leaping cagers they are following. A sad reality that even our home-grown sports like arnis and sepak takraw are foreign to many.
Greater than being the Philippines’ largest sports retailer, Decathlon is here to change that mindset.
Europe’s no.1 sports merchandise store has opened its doors to putting up sports clinics and staging activities to boost the Pinoys’ knowledge about other sports. It aims to bring other sports closer to the hearts of Filipinos and to expand a sport-loving community.
French-born Decathlon recently opened its fourth branch and its first stand-alone store in the country. Situated in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Manila and the highly urbanized city of Antipolo, one can find a 3,500-square meter mecca of sports.
“One of our strategies is to partner up with local people that are around sports scenes like sports influencers and enthusiasts, associations, and non-government organizations,” said Decathlon Masinag’s store leader, Emanoil Pupazan, during the press conference minutes after the formal opening of their Masinag store on Sept.13.
“That’s really our goal. More than being a sports retailer we would like to ultimately build the sports community and make it very accessible to every Filipino,” added Pupazan who was joined by Decathlon Philippines chief executive officer, Hans Iff; expansion manager, Nic Roxas; Philippine communication leader, Aya Garcia; and Masinag store operations manager, Julius Tan.
Decathlon Masinag is a home to 5,000 products for 70 different sports where people from all walks of life could choose from.
Fitness curious individuals have a wide-range of lifts and weights, to an array of fat-burning equipment to die for. While adventure sports aficionados like hikers could enjoy a great deal with its heavy-duty 10-liter backpacks. Even beach bums can have a blast exploring underwater with its best-selling optimum snorkeling mask.
Sports newbies and junkies need not to think twice on what products would fit them. Decathlon has them – for beginners, intermediate and advance users.
PAYBACK TO COMMUNITY
Profit comes secondary.
People behind Decathlon believe it is their social responsibility to help with the grassroots program development and give back to the Filipino community. They see themselves as “catalyst to make sure that more and more people get into sports,” says Pupazan who played handball for nine years and was a soccer goalkeeper.
The Romanian store leader who adores combat sports and is a self-confessed Barcelona FC fan, bared that they have partnered with 32 organizations and is on track in its vision to connect people and sports.
“As far as the partnership, it’s something that we’ll promote, we are open towards it. Our purpose is to make people love sport,” he added. “This is a strategy to increase sports practitioners and build network around us.”
One major thing he is looking forward to is the formation of a rugby club in Antipolo which will be handled by a former member of the Philippine women’s national rugby team as well as initiating sports clinics not limited to basketball.
Archery and football clinics are also in the pipeline. Pupazan being a martial arts devotee also wants to bring attention to the Philippine martial art of arnis. He believes it is important to learn the art of self-defense and the discipline incorporated in it.
For the unwavering love of sports and with all of these blueprints turning smartly into concrete path, Iff vowed: “We will do our best to cater to the sporting needs of the people.”