(This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s April 13 edition)
There are two World Cup-bound national women’s teams, one is enjoying tremendous private sector support, while the other, one with a rich history, is practically begging for support.
The Filipinas, backed by the deep pockets of Jeff Cheng, is enjoying tremendous success. After a marquee year that the team, called Malditas by some, quality for the World Cup, win the country’s first medal in the Southeast Asian Games and win the Asean Football Federation Women’s Championships in an eight-month span, the team extended its good run, going undefeated in the first round of the Olympic qualifiers.
First to fall was Pakistan, 4-0, and the team doubled the score against Tajikistan, 8-0. Sarina Bolden was golden against Hong Kong as the commentator kept saying, needing only five minutes to get the Philippines on top.
That impressive showing has made the Philippines one of the favorites to win the Southeast Asian Games gold medal next month and I think this is the first time that fans will be hoping for a finals stint for a Philippine football team in the biennial games.
On the flip side of the coin is the PHL women’s softball team, whose nickname the Blu Girls have endured the country’s transition from RP to PHL. The Blu Girls have made the World Cup and that shows the quality of this team.
Softball may not be a popular sport in the country but the fact that the Blu Girls are in the World Cup shows its potential. During a sports forum, members of the Blu Girls said they are hoping for an international training before the World Cup.
I hope that will come true. A world cup-bound team shouldn’t be hoping for a training stint, it should be a given. I hope the Philippine Sports Commission, which gave an initial P60 million for the Fiba World Cup hosting committee, can give a similar amount to the Blu Girls.
CEBU DOUBLE? After the men’s team won the first two editions of the AIA Kampeon’s Cup, it’s the turn of the women’s team to go for the inagaural title this weekend. Cebu, led by coaches Alexandra Monica and Reymart Cubon, is in Group B along with Batangas and Palawan.
Cebu will have Mary Loises Defante, Angel Joy Ador, Aleth Daniella Mandap, Hazel Romina Arce, Jenny Rose Tolis, Arriane Joy Javier, Karlee Danielle Mangaoang, Maria Elena Leonardo, Marine Danielle Tangjangco and Janet Andaya in the lineup.
During the press con for the event, the Cebu representative said they’ve been holding some scrimmages to prepare the squad for this weekend’s event.
The AIA 7s may be a new event, but Cebu has been holding seven-a-side football for over two decades, which, depending on your point of view, has been either a boon or bane for Cebu football.
The Cebu squad may be just trying to jell right now, but I think their experience in 7-a-side matches through the years may play a big factor in this year’s tournament.
So, here’s hoping they win this year’s title and as a fitting follow-up, here’s hoping both the men’s and women’s teams get to defend their crowns at home, next year.