Filipinas’ historic participation in the FIFA World Cup 2023 came to an end on July 30, 2023 in Eden Park, Auckland in New Zealand. The team played with passion and true grit to the end but was outclassed by the powerhouse Norwegian team. Sad to say that the intensity of Filipinas’ effort to the end is not reflected by the score of Norway 6 : Philippines 0.
There’s no shame in the loss of Filipinas, ranked #46 and a debutante in the World Cup (WC) against the Norwegians, ranked #12 and WC participant for years, aside from being a former World Champion.
As the Philippine National Anthem was played, the players had tears as they sang along. They were just proud to be playing for their country. From the whistle to start and end the game, they gave it all they’ve got. Two unfortunate parts of the match was an own goal shot by Alicia Barker and a red card issued against Sofia Harrison. These resulted from their earnest and intense play that went awry.
Much has been written about the game, so this article would be sharing comments from those who were at the game or watched the game through other ways. There were some of us who were there in spirit through being in Watch Parties. We yelled and screamed too throughout the game in the same way that Filipinos who comprised majority of the estimated 34,697 spectators in Eden Park did! ??
The Filipinos came bedecked in Filipinas and Philippine flag colours. They relentlessly cheered on the team and stayed on till after the finish of the game. Every felt so proud and appreciative of the Filipinas participation in the WC.
Check out the video posted on the Philippine Embassy of New Zealand FB page)
We would like to pay tribute to all in the Filipinas team. These athletes made a lot of sacrifices to qualify and represent the Philippines in the world football arena. They left the comforts of their homes and trained through rain, intense heat and cold weather; and followed stringent diet and fitness regime.
We also pray tribute to the staff and management who supported Filipinas in their historic football journey. They shared their technical know-how, caring, time and resources which were essential for Filipinas to perform at its best.
(Filipinas Staff - PWNT FB Page)
At the close of Filipinas’ WC participation, Sir Jeff Cheng, Team Manager announced that “The contracts of Coach Alen Stajcic and Assistant Coach Nahuel Arrarte expired at the conclusion of the PWNFT’s World Cup campaign. They will not be renewed as both coaches have asked to explore other options. Coach Alen and Coach Naz have expressed their deepest gratitude for the opportunity and support they have received from the Philippine football community.”
He also said that: “Coach Alen and Coach Naz have expressed their deepest gratitude for the opportunity and support they have received from the Philippine football community.
. . . Coach Alen wishes to send this message—
“I would first and foremost like to express my gratitude to Sir Jeff for giving us the opportunity and entrusting us with the keys to the National Team.
“Throughout nearly 20 months we went on a journey together as a Team from outsiders in South-East Asia to winning a match at a World Cup.
“On behalf of Coach Nahuel and myself, we would like to thank all the Coaching staff for your hard work, dedication and commitment.
“To the players, I can only say, you were courageous, passionate, disciplined and loyal to the Team, the Flag and the Country. Your sacrifices should be long remembered by all Philippine Sports fans. To give hope and inspiration is the greatest of all achievements.
“I wish everyone a great future and look forward to following the next chapters in the story.”
Excerpts from the Philippine Football Federation page)
We are also glad to share the comments to The Australian Filipina from Rey Manoto, Fil-Aus Campbelltown City Councillor who together with his wife, Marissa travelled to New Zealand to support Filipinas.
“We are so proud of our Philippine Women’s National Football Team which made a great impact to the sport of soccer in the Philippines. Qualifying in the best stage of football, the FIFA World Cup, is something. Winning a game is even greater, and history was made for our first goal, our first win in the first FIFA World Cup appearance. It is also truly exciting to watch the Filipinas live and give them support right in the stadium they are playing. We were there in their historic win, the happiness, the emotion, the energy, the roar, and the pride seemed happened altogether. Great joy.
(First photo - Marissa and Rey Manoto; second photo - Jeff Cheng and Rey Manoto. Supplied)
It is interesting to note the statistics on the FIFA website relating to the Norway – Filipinas game. They highlighted three Filipinas' performance in the game:
Sara Eggesvik (Player #8) covered 12.36km of total distance
Katrina Guillou (Player #21) had 60 pressing applied
Olivia McDaniel (Player #31) had 31 goals prevented.
The social media is full of heartwarming postings commending Filipinas for their historic stint in the WC. The comments from a fan capture the sentiments expressed in the various postings.
“This just sank in. I've lost sleep due to the timezone difference for the past two weeks watching our very own Philippine Women's National Football Team in the World Cup, and my heart is bursting with a mix of emotions. There were tears, yes, but more than that, a sense of pride is hard to put into words.
Seeing these women, our women, wearing our flag and giving their all on the world's biggest stage has been nothing short of inspirational. They have shown us that the true measure of victory isn't always the final score but the journey it took to get there. Their unity in every move and their resilience in the face of towering challenges left me – left us – in awe.
They may not have brought home the World Cup, but as the sun sets on this chapter, we remain steadfast in our belief that a new dawn is on the horizon. They've brought something else home – a renewed hope for Philippine football, a spark for the countless young girls and boys who will now dream bigger because they saw our team daring to take on the world.
Our journey in this tournament has ended, but the legacy they have begun will echo for generations to come. This wasn't just a football tournament but a clear display of the unbreakable Filipino spirit. ”
The Australian Filipina congratulates Filipinas in their historic participation in FIFA World Cup 2023 and wishes success in their further involvement in women football.
(Acknowledgements of photos and info - Philippine Women's National Football FB page; FIFA WWC; Philippine Football Federation FB page,)
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The writer attended a Fil-Aus Watch Party held at Hudson Hotel in Seven Hills. The other Fil-Aus Watch party was held at the Lone Star in Blacktown. There were also non-Filipinos watching the game at the premises.