Cam Rodriguez believes that the recently concluded 2023 PFF Women’s League demonstrates tangible progress for women’s football in the Philippines.
Rodriguez, a member of the championship-winning Kaya-Iloilo team, reflected on their 1-0 victory over Manila Digger last Saturday. Despite her penalty being saved, substitute Sheen Nicole Ramores scored the decisive 86th-minute goal with an assist from Sara Castañeda.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been preparing for this for the past four weeks. We knew the game plan entering this match, and what we needed was the whole team to execute it.
“Entering the second half, we aimed to score and finish the game in the next 90 minutes. We had an advantage, and we just needed to make the most out of it. Thankfully, when we made the substitution, there was new energy and more calmness. So really, props to Nicole for getting the goal. It was a whole team effort,” she expressed.
“I just think I hit it the way I wanted to. I think the keeper read it that way, and that’s just how football goes. So yeah, I’m just very happy that we made the substitution, ended up with a win, and took the gold home.”
Rodriguez is among several former UAAP players in the PFFWL, including Sara Castañeda, Bhebe Lemoran, Shela Mae Cadag, and Inna Palacios. For her, this highlights the league’s growth as a destination for former UAAP players to continue their football careers, marking a significant step forward.
“That’s a great question. I think it fills my heart with so much joy to see everyone still playing, still wanting to play, and this final is a good sign that football in the Philippines really is growing,” said the Ateneo de Manila University alumna.
“I mean, it’s the first time that we have a new PFFWL champion. It’s the first time that two club teams are the ones in the championship. So historically, it’s always been the UAAP to play against,” she added.
“So it just means that the quality of players coming from our batch, the people I played against, and now performing at the club level, you know intent the desire to play is there. We just need more financial backing, better structure to be able to play and really elevate the Philippines. Pero nakakaproud talaga na kasama sila.”
Kaya-Iloilo fielded the best lineup possible for this competition, involving former UAAP players with strong international experience and Filipinas skipper Hali Long. Let Dimzon, a former national team player and mentor, directed the proceedings from the sidelines.
This strong core of players is eager to fulfill more dreams in the sport moving forward. These athletes have trained and played together for many years now and they would only like to push forward from here.
“Officially, Kaya’s women’s team started in 2019. But our bond goes way before that because we’ve been playing together with the national team since the 2017 SEA Games and even before that,” said Rodriguez.
“Either playing against each other or playing with each other. So I’m happy when I return to my club here in the Philippines, they’re the ones I play with because it’s easier to play when you know and understand the movements of your teammates,” she continued.
“We’re more than capable of leading the way, and we don’t want to stop here. We want to go to the next level, the AFC club championships and even further. We want to be as competitive as possible and really set the bar high for club football.”