Mandy (left) and Milka Romero are out to prove that just like their father, Mikee, they can also build a professional team that can take Philippine sports by storm. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CAPITAL1

Sisters Milka and Mandy grew up watching their father, businessman and sports patron Mikee Romero, build a basketball team from the ground up.

Pouring time, effort and energy, the Romero patriarch turned his Harbour Centre franchise into arguably the most successful club in the defunct Philippine Basketball League with seven titles spanning from the mid to late-2000s.

A decade and a half later, it’s the Romero sisters’ turn to make their mark as team owners of the newest team in the Premier Volleyball League — the Capital1 Solar Energy Solar Spikers.

Just like their amiable and media-savvy former lawmaker father, Milka and Mandy carried an air of confidence when they faced reporters when the club formally announced its entry to the country’s first and only women’s professional league.

“It’s also known that we have been in a sports family. We have been in a franchise in basketball, in volleyball as well and (even in) other Southeast Asian Games (teams) so the training that our father has given us I think is an opportunity for us to shine as the next generation that can bring our ideas into the sport especially in women’s sports,” Milka, 30, said.

Following the footsteps of their father, who owns the NorthPort franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association, puts pressure on the Romero sisters.

Still, they welcome the challenge.

“So for me, I would like to think of the pressure more as an opportunity for us to shine, to see what we learned but also add more or contribute, especially to volleyball,” Milka said.

Being former athletes themselves before taking their respective seats in their family’s ever-expanding and diverse business ventures, the Romero sisters can fully relate to their club’s coaches and players.

Mandy, who heads Capital1, was a member of the national muay team while Milka, the company’s director, saw action on the football pitch as co-team captain of Ateneo de Manila University booters.

“My sister and I are big fans of the PVL. What we have to bring to the team is our heart,” Mandy said.

“We really have the passion for it and we also understand the daily struggles of what it is to be an athlete, especially at the national level, to represent your team, the vision, and also sometimes the entire country,” the 24-year-old Magna Cum Laude at Georgetown University added. 

“For us, hopefully, we can create a strong bond, really like a family. That’s what we’re looking for with Capital1 Solar Energy.”

Milka, on the other hand, believes that their background as ex-athletes would help them run the club better. 

“I experienced being a player at a very high-level and I know how you just wanna focus on the game. But the pressure and management and all of that affected our game back when I was playing. So I think it’s an advantage that I can also think like a player,” she said.

Although the Capital1 team owners want to make their mark using their dynamic ideas and style, the sisters would still go back to the basic lessons they learned from their father.

“As we mentioned earlier, we’ve been young athletes, training all our lives. But also coming as team owners, what we learned from our father is how to be passionate team owners, how to care for the team, the players, the managers, the coaches, and especially the love for the sport and the game,” Mandy, a Health Care Management and Policy degree holder with a Minor in Justice and Peace Studies, said.

Capital1 tapped multi-titled mentor Roger Gorayeb to handle the club composed of a good mix of veteran and young players.

However, the Solar Spikers are sure to find their maiden run in the All-Filipino Conference to be a rough one, especially against other established clubs.

But Mandy remains hopeful.

“We know that it will be an uphill battle but we want to have our competitive spirit at the end of the day and that’s something we learned from our dad,” she said.

The Romero sisters are tempering expectations for Capital1’s debut tournament in the PVL.

But they expect their efforts to finally pay dividends in the future.  

“We realize that great teams take time and with coach Roger at the helm, we hope that we can create a formidable team in the next two to three years and hopefully find diverse talent from across the country,” Mandy said.

“We’re focusing on a two to three developmental program wherein the franchise is new but we have experienced experts. The company is new but our experiences are there and our main focus as sisters is to build our culture, build the team first and put our place in the PVL,” Milka pointed out.

“We don’t look to become champions right away. We’re taking it one step at a time. Just having the opportunity to join the PVL, we’re already grateful, as I mentioned. Everything else is a bonus. We want to win of course, that’s why everybody’s here. It’s the most competitive league and sport but our footing is given to the experts and I think that relationship is something that we expect on our end. But of course, we have bigger visions for Capital1 Power Spikers.”

Truly, the Romero sisters inherited the passion and heart for sports from their father.

The next generation has arrived.