Sun 23 June 2024

How the PWNT gave hope to a former student-athlete

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(Photo caption: Writer Karl Tan in 2005, when he played in the Ang Liga football league)

In 2004, I played my very last football match as a student-athlete and it was against the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, led by Marielle Benitez and Andrea Yang. The Ang Liga tournament was in its second season and the league consisted of various colleges and universities across the Metro. The PWNT participated in Ang Liga that season as a guest team in preparation for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games hosted by the Philippines. The SEA Games women’s football matches were played at the Marikina Sports Complex. Our women’s team won, 2-0 against Indonesia. What a great day that was! I can still remember walking the streets, waving the Philippine flag while drivers were honking their car horns in jubilation.

Little did I know then that the PWNT’s SEA Games win were part of the baby steps towards something I thought would never happen in my lifetime.

Forward to 2022 when the Filipinas won the AFF Championship. Witnessing in person the Filipinas lifting the AFF trophy brought tears to my eyes. I felt so much pride and joy that evening. The Filipinas’ victory really made me realize that impossible is indeed nothing.

It seems just fitting for a company whose motto is “Impossible is nothing” would be a major supporter in the Filipinas’ next journey.

The Philippine Football Federation announced on February 9, 2023, that they have partnered with Adidas for a four-year deal (with an option to extend), which will primarily be for the Philippine Women’s National Football Team who will be making their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut this July in New Zealand.

PFF General Secretary Atty. Ed Gastañes also declared that Adidas will be the official outfitter of the U20, U19, U17 and the U16 Women’s Youth National Teams.

Adidas General Manager Anthony Frangos disclosed that there will be an official launching of the Adidas Filipinas World Cup kits, and that these kits to be available for fans to purchase by May 2023.

Being an observer (and sometimes insider) of the Philippine football scene for more than two decades, I’ve seen how the sport of football and national athletes have struggled to get support. Hearing Mr. Frangos say that Adidas’ sponsorship of the women’s team goes beyond the World Cup was definitely a big deal.

He said, “We look to provide support and inspire the next generation of Filipino athletes. Our goal together with the PFF is to lead the conversation of women in sport, and build awareness on what this group of inspirational women has achieved today, and will achieve in the coming future. At Adidas, we believe, that through sports, we have the power to change lives. Football changes lives. Just ask the ladies who are part of the Philippine national team.”

The night the Filipinas lifted the AFF Championship trophy was joyous as it was surreal. It was just perfect that, that night, I was surrounded by the women I love. I had my wife and daughter beside me and I gave them the tightest hugs after the final whistle blew. I approached my mother whom I was with in 2005 and I told her, “Can you believe years back, we were walking the streets of Marikina celebrating a win in the group stages? Now, we are celebrating the PWNT lifting their first major international title!”

The Filipinas gave me hope. In life, there will be struggles. Great things will not happen overnight, but one just has to trust the process and believe that things can be achieved. Indeed, “impossible is nothing.”

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