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We Need to Talk About the Women’s World Cup


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Every 4 years the world stops in favor of the beautiful game. If you’re an avid follower of the men’s side, the World Cup is a time when football obsession rises to a collective frenzy before it sinks back to just normal levels of obsession, if there is such a thing. The Philippines isn’t exactly a footballing nation but even so, during World Cup time, the fever becomes infectious and undeniable here too. In contrast, if you’re a follower of the women’s game, the women’s edition of the World Cup means #woso gets its fair share of media attention for the 2 months competition lasts before interest slides back down and remains in the background until the next World Cup.

Highlights

Lest we forget, this edition of the Women’s World Cup showcased all the kinds of compelling stories sports has to offer: perennial contender Brazil, led by 5-time player of the year awardee Marta, was knocked out by Australia as early as the round of 16; on the Japanese bench, we saw a teddy bear appointed as symbolic proxy to their injured teammate Kozue Ando; on the German side, Celia Sasic featured in the first-ever missed penalty kick for either the men’s or women’s German squads. The miss came at a crucial moment and allowed eventual champions US to capitalize and move on to the final. France, meanwhile, arguably played the best, most modern and exciting brand of football, but even then fell short of making it to the final stages of the tournament. American Carli Lloyd’s brilliant 3 goals in 15 minutes in the Cup final can speak for itself.

This edition of the Women’s World Cup, in its many fine moments, proved that the beauty of the game is independent of the gender of its players. That the compelling stories on the pitch were able to shine through despite the current messy state of FIFA affairs—a disgraced president, a corruption scandal that spans continents and millions of dollars—is a testament to the quality of football that is being played on the women’s side.

The heartbreak that the sport can cause is gender-neutral as well: Who can forget English defender Laura Bassett’s last-minute own goal which sealed her team’s fate against Japan in the semis? Who didn’t sympathize?

According to FIFA, 53,531 of mostly US fans were in attendance at BC Place, Vancouver, Canada for the Cup Final, while even more Americans watched the Women’s World Cup from their homes, surpassing the ratings of the most recent NBA Championships.

In an analogy made by local sportswriter Levi Verora Jr., “[Imagine if] more Filipinos watched Perlas (the Philippine women’s national basketball team) than the PBA finals.” That’s the scale at which this edition of the Women’s World Cup was able to hold people’s attentions.

Low points

Despite the many gains for women’s football, the biggest set-back came even before the tournament was set to begin. FIFA allowed host country Canada to hold the entire tournament on artificial turf, an inferior surface to grass, and one that would never be considered for the men’s senior tournament.

There exists a gap between the men’s and women’s game and it can be highlighted most by the numbers: according to an article by Vice Sports, “The winning men’s team at the 2014 World Cup earned $35 million, paid to that country’s federation. Second place took home $25 million. Just for making it out of the group stage, each of those 16 teams got $8 million.” By comparison, “How much do the women earn? The total prize purse for this year’s tournament for everyone is $15 million—an increase from $10 million in 2011.” That’s just the prize money, but most players don’t earn salaries for playing women’s football at the highest level. Most players have to “really scrape by,” says Julie Foudy, a former player for the US Women’s National Team.

Changing the conversation

It’s important to talk about the Women’s World Cup here and now if only to recognize the forefronts of development. Where are we? How do we get to the next level?

In 2013, the Philippine Women’s National Football Team participated in the Asian Cup Qualifiers and lost by a single goal to Thailand. Thailand then went on to qualify for this year’s Women’s World Cup and became the first Southeast Asian women’s team to record a win at the World Cup-level when it won against Ivory Coast 3-2 in the group stage.

We need to talk about it because we need to recognize the global conversation taking place beyond just the Philippines. There’s a long way to go especially since women’s football in this country is fighting the battle for visibility on two fronts: one, is to garner mainstream recognition, and the other is to become a field worthy of regular media coverage.

The Azkals have won over the public and the media with their string of brilliant performances in recent years but are still a long way off from comfortably swimming in corporate sponsorships. The United Football League, meanwhile, has grown by leaps and bounds but attendance is sparse on most games of the season.

For women’s football, and women’s sports in the Philippines in general, perhaps with the exception of volleyball, the climb is several times steeper. So again, where are we and how do we get to the next level?

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One thing’s for sure, taking steps towards development entails talking about women’s football, not just now, in the wake of the Women’s World Cup, but also in the future. We need to talk about women’s football more often and more regularly. By changing the narrative of women’s football here at home, we are taking a step closer to our World Cup dreams.

*Photo taken from FIFA Women’s World Cup Facebook page.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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