SportsThe Philippines relies on international influences – DW – July 23, 2023

    The Philippines relies on international influences – DW – July 23, 2023

    There has never been a team like the Philippines at a World Cup. It’s not uncommon in football for players to represent a different country than the one in which they were born and grew up. But to call up 22 of those players from a total of 23 is a first – with midfielder Anicka Castaneda as the archipelago’s only native talent.

    The team is mostly from the United States (18 players), but also from Canada (1), Australia (1) and Norway (2). In club football, the felt need for a core of a team to be local in order to connect with fans and club values ​​is long gone – although there are still isolated examples of this. In the case of the national teams, on the other hand, national pride and a connection to one’s homeland are mostly still seen as crucial.

    Proximity to the fans of the Philippines

    But California-born forward Sarina Bolden told DW that the players can harness the power of their shared heritage. “Because we were born and raised in different places, I don’t think we really focus on that,” Bolden said. “It doesn’t matter where we were born because we all have this one thing that binds us together: that’s being Filipino. So in the dressing room we’re able to stick together and lift morale no matter what,” she added.

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    Coach Alen Stajcic agrees. “At the end of the day, they all have Filipino blood. They all love their country, heritage and culture, so it’s not hard to connect,” he said.

    Bolden and Stajcic spoke to DW in Auckland, where the team met with fans, signed autographs and took selfies. Several Filipino supporters carried native flags, suggesting that some fans were Filipino children and grandchildren – similar to their idols before them. Such encounters are nothing new for Bolden.

    The “Filipinas” are supported by Filipinos around the world.Image: Oliver Moody/DW

    Basketball is the number one sport

    “What I have personally learned is that Filipinos are everywhere. Everywhere in the world, every place we’ve been, there have been people who have supported us,” she said. This remark touches on one of the main reasons behind the composition of the Filipino team:

    The huge Filipino diaspora has driven millions of people to emigrate to Europe, the Middle East and most notably North America. For a variety of reasons, including the fact that the Philippines was a US colony between 1902 and 1946, the United States is by far the most common destination.

    US influence in the first half of the 20th century also helped establish basketball as the most popular sport in the Philippines, while US women’s soccer did not emerge until well after the end of the colonial era. So it should come as no surprise that US-born players have become an integral part of the Philippines team.

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    Strong team spirit

    Coach Stajcic has experienced the opposite phenomenon in his home country. As an Australian with Serbian roots, he is part of a football scene largely shaped by immigrants from Europe and their descendants. “Growing up in Australia, the country is full of immigrants. Sometimes the passion for the country that people left is even greater than that of those who stayed behind,” he said.

    Soccer Women World Cup 2023 I Philippines-Trianer Alen Stajcic
    Philippines trian Alen Stajcic finds a special team spiritImage: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP

    Stajcic also sees this in his players. “I feel like there’s an incredible passion for the country in this team. An incredible level of gratitude and humility that I haven’t seen in many other teams around the world. And that leads to probably the best cohesion of a team I’ve ever worked with,” he said.

    The Philippines lost their opening game of World Cup Group A 2-0 to Switzerland – a disappointing result but a respectable performance against far more experienced opponents. The side have reached new heights in recent years, reaching the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in 2022 before beating their Southeast Asian rivals and winning their first AFF league title in the same year. Next up is winning their first World Cup points, with matches against hosts New Zealand and Norway. But how far can this team get?

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    development of the team

    “It’s a tough question. I don’t like capping,” says Stajcic, adding, “We’ve improved dramatically and miraculously, so why should I cap?” For Bolden, it’s also about showing the world what the team has already achieved. “Our goal is to go as far as we can, but I think we definitely want to see that we’ve evolved and that other people say, ‘Wow, this team has come a long way,'” she said.

    New Zealand I Soccer Women's World Cup 2023, autograph event in Auckland
    What can this team of Filipinos, mostly expatriate, achieve?Image: Oliver Moody/DW

    At the public meeting, Bolden looks at the people still waiting to meet her. A mix of locals, Filipino expats and curious fans of the other teams. “I feel like the World Cup is what it’s all about: bringing people together, no matter where they come from, no matter what country they’re from. That’s the essence of football, bringing people together,” she said. “I think we embody that. It’s so nice to see different kids from different backgrounds come just for the fun of it.”

    Translated from English

    Source: DW

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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