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Hali Long hopes to honor her roots by inspiring the future in World Cup

DUNEDIN — As one of the leaders of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, Hali Long is determined to pay homage to her heritage and inspire young players to fulfill their ambitions in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The 28-year-old center-back has come a long way from her days as a member of a youth team that won three state championships. Now she is a pioneer, leading her homeland on the grandest stage of them all, and she intends to make the most out of the experience.

“I was raised in a very Filipino household growing up. My lola, my mom, and my tita raised me and my two older sisters in a house in America, but inside and under the roof, it was purely Pinoy. I knew nothing different. I didn’t know I was different because of where I was,” said Long, who grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri but traces her roots in Obando, Bulacan.

“It’s just who I was without question and what I’ve always known. The food and the culture I’ve always known just in America. To be able to represent my heritage, my mom, and my sisters, and how powerful they were to come to America and to raise me and give me a better life, just to have that opportunity to bring it back home for my mom and my lola and the people who brought me up is such an honor.”

Long, who was first capped by the Philippines in 2016, has made 72 appearances for the national team while scoring 18 goals. She was there during the tough times, such as when the Filipinas won only one match in the 2017 SEA Games and the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

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Fast forward a few years after those tournaments, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a bronze medal from the 2021 SEA Games and a gold medal from the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship.

Now she is the co-captain of a side that will make its debut on the world stage on Friday afternoon.2022-AFF-Womens-Championship-Thailand-vs-Philippines-Hali-Long-PHI Hali Long hopes to honor her roots by inspiring the future in World Cup Filipinas Football News  - philippine sports news

“I’m on the team at this present moment. I always knew I was going to see it one day in my life. I didn’t know I would be here, being able to live it, breathe it, struggle through it, love it like I am right now,” said Long.

“So I’m super honored and grateful to play in the moment to see the Philippines take the global stage for the first time. That’s what it’s all about. I always dreamed about inspiring people through doing something that I love, and I didn’t know it was going to be football, but here I am doing it for the country that I love, the people that I love.”

For a lot of former national team players, they believe that they have a duty to play to inspire. While football has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade, there is still a long way to go before the sport can be truly ingrained into the national consciousness of the Philippines.

Having the Filipinas compete in this year’s World Cup and their exploits being shown on free TV in the country will help further that goal. However, this dream must be sustained for the sport to really flourish.

“We just want to be attainable, reachable for all the girls back home, regardless of where we come from. They see us on TV, on international television, seeing us play, seeing us have the flag, seeing us with our crests for the first time,” said Long.

“We dreamt of this, and if they have big dreams and they follow them, do the hard work as we did, hopefully, it will get easier for them one day, and hopefully they could see themselves up here just like us.”

Long and her teammates will commence their long-awaited campaign against Switzerland tomorrow here in Dunedin. On paper, it should be an easy win for La Nati, who are ranked 26 places higher than the Filipinas.

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Long and her teammates will commence their long-awaited campaign against Switzerland tomorrow at the Forsyth Barr Stadium here. On paper, it should be an easy win for the La Nati, who are ranked 26 places higher than the Filipinas.

However, football matches aren’t won on paper. They are fought for on the pitch. While the odds may be stacked against the debutants, they will give it a proper go.

32nd-SEA-Games-Filipinas-vs-Vietnam-Hali-Long Hali Long hopes to honor her roots by inspiring the future in World Cup Filipinas Football News  - philippine sports news


“We want to win,” said Long. “Obviously, we’re the underdog coming in, but I would say that Switzerland can be in that same category because this is just their second time going.

“They also have nothing to lose, but being a Filipino in any sport, I would say you’re the underdog, but that’s kind of where we thrive. We love to punch above our weight and punch through the ceiling, and we’ve constantly done that for the past 18 months to get to where we are now,” she continued.

“So regardless of our age, our experience, what we’ve gained in the last 18 months, I mean you can’t put a price on it. For the players, the knowledge we’ve gained, the habits we’ve also gained, and the respect we’ve garnered, I don’t think you can discredit us. We’re going to go in and give it our absolute all each and every game.”

Whatever happens in the Filipinas’ campaign, Long has already made her family and country proud just by breaking new boundaries. It is also by paying tribute to her past that she is helping build the future of Philippine football.

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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