In a historic first, the Philippine women’s football team bagged the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship crown after defeating Thailand in a heart-pounding 3-0 victory at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last weekend. This marked the country’s first international title in football and was a leap of improvement from the team’s fourth-place finish in 2019.
Under a drizzle, Jessika Cowart and Katrina Guillou scored two early goals in the first half, while Sarina Bolden found the back of the net in the second half to secure the win. Three goals electrified the audience, and has now boldly announced to the nation that Filipino women can excel — and win — in a sport such as football that is usually associated with men.
For so long, the field of sports in the country has been dominated by men such as former Senator Manny Pacquiao in boxing, Efren “Bata” Reyes Jr. in billiards, or Robert Jaworski in basketball. The eyes of the nation — even corporate sponsorships — are on these popular sports. It is only during the time of Lydia de Vega in track and field, or Bong Coo in bowling that Filipino women began carving their place in sports. This culminated with the feat of Hidilyn Diaz, who, almost a year ago, bagged the country’s first Olympic gold medal. She “lifted” the nation and boosted all our spirits, proving that Filipino athletes are indeed of world-class caliber and can achieve more in the upcoming Paris Olympics with the right support (for equipment, training, and nutrition) and motivation from the government and the private sector.
The historic win of the Philippine women’s football team, endearingly called the “Filipinas,” was lauded on social media. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was among the first to post a congratulatory message to the team, calling it a “historic victory.” A few hours prior to the championship game, the President offered a personal video message, where he said, “I send my best and strongest and most fervent good luck wishes to our women’s football team who have managed to reach the finals and are now vying for the championship. The entire Philippines and I are behind you.” The President concluded his message with a clear anticipation that the team will be champions. He was right.
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF), which governs the men’s and women’s national teams, dubbed the convincing win as “herstory achieved!” On its website, PFF credited coach Alen Stajcic as the “architect of the first major international football win for the country.” Stajcic, on his part, considered the win as “exhilarating” — “We’ve conquered Southeast Asia…but there are bigger challenges ahead of us.” This AFF win is the latest glory for the team, which already qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time, and bagged the bronze medal in the 31st Southeast Asian Games last May.
It is now time for more women and women’s teams to shine in sports, especially as the Filipinas have proven their mettle, might, and heart in the grueling path to championship. The Manila Bulletin is one with the nation in congratulating the team for its groundbreaking feat. May the Filipinas bag more medals and championships to come so they can once again enthrall the nation and inspire a new generation of young — and female — athletes.