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Her-story: A look back at the first ever Philippine team in any World Cup

Treading a path no Filipino or Filipina has ever set foot on.

For a country who is mad about basketball, it was always going to be a tough time drumming up interest for football (or soccer, as most of us here call it). But with the buzz surrounding the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, the apparent disinterest in football may soon be rectified.

The Philippine Women’s National Football Team qualified for the Women’s World Cup by virtue of a 1-1 draw with Chinese Taipei in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India. Sarina Bolden plundered home the winning penalty in the ensuing shootout to win 4-3 and in the process, made history. It was there that the Malditas were starting to attract attention, and what they did later that year cemented their status as legends (locally, at least).

Malditas” (their former nickname) was adopted in 2005 to reflect the fighting spirit and the so-called “sass” the players have.

Philippines v Thailand - AFF Women’s Championship Final Photo by George Calvelo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

They followed up their World Cup qualification 2022 AFF Women’s Championship which was held in Manila, Philippines. The ladies swept all before one in front of a roaring crowd en route to the final, beating powerhouses Vietnam (4-0 in the semis) and Thailand (4-0 in the final). It was at that moment the support for the PWNFT began to rise.

It’s an unbelievable achievement by the group, and a moment in history for the country, you won’t be able to take that away from the group. For now, every young kid back at home in the Philippines can be inspired to get to the World Cup themselves. The group is really proud of each other, but they’re even more proud to inspire the next generation.

– Head coach Alen Stajcic

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Final Draw
Don Stajcic
Photo by Joe Allison - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Most of the players on the team are either half-Americans or born on American soil (18 in total), but qualify for the Philippines through a parent (which is the case for nearly all of our players, men’s and women’s teams alike). The story behind the huge presence of Filipino-Americans in the PWNFT is down to three people: Butchie Impelido, Mark Mangune, and Clint McDaniel.

Butchie was an immigrant to the United States and little did he know that by persuading his daughter, Northern Illinois University star player Angeline Impelido, to try out for the PWNFT in 2005, he would pave the way for the next generation of talented starlets that would eventually become the bridge of past and present in the PWNFT. Angeline’s sister, Patrice, is also a former player and now works as part of the Malditas’ coaching staff. Butchie himself said that the success of the USWNT was another factor in the growth of female soccer players in the states (the USWNT had won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and 1999 on home soil, which boosted the team’s profile).

New Zealand v Philippines: Group A - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023
Olivia’s dad Clint was a massive help in getting the PWNFT to where they are now
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Clint McDaniel on the other hand helped out with tryouts in Corona, California in 2012. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and their coach Ernie Nierras was looking to hold a stateside tryouts and was looking for a venue to conduct them. Up stepped McDaniel and his Filipina wife Lindy, along with team manager Filbert Alquiros and local coach Trey Scharlin, who made the tryouts possible and basically made Corona the Malditas’ home away from home.

Clint had two teenage daughters at the time he got stateside tryouts going. Their names? Olivia and Chandler McDaniel, the sister-act making waves for the Malditas. Around 100 applicants turned up that year, which was thanks to the efforts of Mark Mangune, a scout who used the PWNFT’s 2012 LA Viking Cup win to scout prospects across the US (his estimates range from 700-800 prospects).

Brazil v Australia: Round of 16 - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Photo by Clive Rose - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Interestingly, Alen Stajcic is the former coach of the Australia women’s national football team whom he led to the quarterfinals of the 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup. Alen also one-upped the “Matildas” (not to be confused with Malditas) in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship with a 1-0 win. The Australian mastermind has already given the country a milestone achievement and he’ll be looking to build upon that in the tournament.

After a 2-0 loss to Switzerland in the opening game, the team made headlines after beating co-hosts New Zealand 0-1 in Wellington thanks to Sarina Bolden’s header on the 24th minute and a Player of the Match display from Olivia McDaniel. The Jose Mourinho special that Stajcic dished was enough to give us the win, all three points, a clean sheet, and lastly: enough to make history. It was emotional as Stajcic and the players were clearly overwhelmed with emotion because of the stunning feat they pulled; it was evident in the mixed zone after the game.

Norway v Philippines: Group A - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023
We still love you!
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The chances of the Philippines advancing to the Round of 16 were respectable and got everyone hyped should the impossible happen. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Norway proved to be one bridge too far as the Philippines suffered a 6-0 battering to end their Women’s World Cup tournament early. Despite elimination from the cup, support flooded in for the Filipinas as everyone who supported them said the same thing: everyone is proud of you. Competing in the Women’s World Cup and getting a historic first win is already an achievement in the eyes of Filipinos across the globe.

Seeing the Philippines at a World Cup (and being able to sing the national anthem there) is truly a moment in history that no one will ever forget. The current edition of the World Cup can be used as a learning experience as the Filipinas try to bounce back in 2027. However, it will be without Stajcic as his contract runs out after the tournament, so whoever takes his place has a big job on his/her hands.

The day that the Philippine flag appears at the Final of a football tournament:

Goalkeepers: Olivia McDaniel (Stallion Laguna), Kaiya Jota (Stanford Cardinal), Kiara Fontanilla (Central Coast Mariners)

Defenders: Malea Cesar (Blacktown City), Jessika Cowart (Kalmar), Hali Long (Kaya–Iloilo), Angela Beard (Western United), Sofia Harrison (Free Agent, last played for Werder Bremen), Alicia Barker (Pacific Northwest), Dominique Randle (Þór/KA), Reina Bonta (Santos)

Midfielders: Jaclyn Sawicki (Western United), Tahnai Annis (Þór/KA), Sara Eggesvik (KIL/Hemne), Anicka Castañeda (Mt Druitt Town Rangers), Ryley Bugay (Free Agent, last played for FC Saarbrucken), Meryll Serrano (Stabæk), Quinley Quezada (Red Star Belgrade)

Attackers: Sarina Bolden (Western Sydney Wanderers), Isabella Flanigan (West Virginia Mountaineers), Chandler McDaniel (Stallion Laguna), Carleigh Frilles (Blacktown Spartans), Katrina Guillou (Piteå)


July 20 | Philippines 0 - 2 Switzerland

July 24 | New Zealand 0 - 1 Philippines (Bolden 24’)

July 30 | Norway 6 - 0 Philippines

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