A 29-member Philippine pool kicks off its 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup preparations into overdrive with a training camp, starting on June 10 in Sydney, Australia, with team skippers Hali Long and Inna Palacios expressing their desire to be part of the hardest training regimens that they could possibly have.
“We expect nothing less, because we know how much work we have to do and prepare for a level that we all want to be in,” said Palacios on Thursday when the New Zealand Embassy and the Australian Embassy came together to host a well-attended pre-departure sendoff at the New Zealand Official Residence in North Forbes Park in Makati.
Arriving late from one of their last practices in the Philippines, Long said they are around to play the game that they love and make everyone proud.
“Hopefully, we do justice to the game and make everyone proud,” said Long.
During the recent Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Filipinas pulled off a 2-1 upset of defending champion Vietnam, a fellow World Cup qualifier, but they did not advance to the semifinal round of the women’s football tournament.
Vietnam eventually advanced to the finals, beating Myanmar, 2-0, for the gold medal.
Coach Allen Stajcic, who is now in Sydney, believes that their experience in Vietnam, will only strengthen the girls’ resolve.
The send-off event saw Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Tim Given from the New Zealand Embassy, leading the celebration and encouraging the team members.
“Gusto ko sanang batiin at pasalamatan ang lahat ng manlalaro ng Team Filipinas. Success is the final point of hours of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and making it to the World Cup is an awesome achievement! It is a testament to the Filipino spirit, unity, and sportsmanship,” said Given in ‘Taglish’.
Philippine Football Federation’s National Women’s Training Director Isabella Fernando said the team has gone through two long years of preparation and is excited to see the players do their best.
“They are just gonna be doing their best to earn that spot and represent the flag as best as they can,” said Fernando.
The Filipinas will have their first game against the New Zealand Football Ferns in New Zealand on July 25 in Dunedin.
PFF president Mariano Araneta said he appreciated the encouragement they got from New Zealand and the Australian community in the Philippines.
“We’re in the same group as New Zealand. I believe they will be there to cheer for us. The Filipinas will be making history when they begin their campaign in Dunedin,” said Araneta.