The Asian Football Confederation celebrates the best performing athletes and coaches from Asia every year, and the football governing body have announced their nominees for 2017. One stunning inclusion is the Philippines’ very own Buda Bautista.
Buda Bautista has been the head coach of the Philippine women’s national football team since her appointment in 2015. Her most successful campaign came off the trip to Tajikistan last April, where she helped the team book a historic berth in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which will take place in Jordan next year.
In the tournament that also doubled as qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Philippines qualified when they forced a draw with Bahrain, accumulating enough points to progress after notching wins over the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and hosts Tajikistan, while their loss to Jordan became a non-factor.
Bautista is shortlisted for the AFC Coach of the Year award, together with four-time winner Asako Takakura of Japan women’s national team and Gao Hong of China’s U-16 women’s team. Hong Kong’s Chan Yuen-Ting was last year’s recipient.
“Overwhelmed talaga ako kasi wala tayo ine-expect. It really was a surprise to be shortlisted [by the] AFC. I’m happy because already it is an accomplishment since ibang level na yun, governing body ng Asia [ang nag-decide] diba?” Bautista commented on her inclusion.
Bautista’s nomination marks the first time the Philippines has been a candidate for player or coaching honors in the AFC annual awards ever since its inception in 1994. The Philippine Football Federation did get presented with the President’s Recognition Award for Grassroots Football in 2014, and Mary Catherine Rivilla was bestowed the now-defunct Match Commissioner of the Year award in 2008. In terms of a more prestigious individual award, however, Bautista’s selection precedes no other Filipino or Filipina.
“Siguro dahil dun sa performance at results na na-accomplish natin sa Tajikistan. History para sa PWNT. Maybe nag-monitor din ang AFC sa mga nakaraan na campaign,” shared Bautista.
Nonetheless, Bautista is grateful and hopes the recognition will help bring progress to the development of the country’s homegrown coaches.
“I would say that this will inspire and boost the morale of our coaches regardless of gender, in pursuing further the coaching profession. Hopefully it will further encourage the organization for all out support,” she added.
The awards ceremony announcing the winners will take place on November 29 in Bangkok, Thailand.
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