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Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup



03 MAY 2015 (COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA) –The Philippine Pythons National Touch Football Team makes history after recently competing in the Touch World Cup 2015 held at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia on April 29 to May 3, 2015. After the 5-day tournament, the Philippine Mixed Open Team climbs to world no. 9 while the Philippine Women’s Open Team is now world no. 12, after both being unseeded at the start of the tournament.


 25member nations participated in this year’s event.
 Six nations made their debut: Chile, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates,
and the Philippines.
 84 teams played in a total of 9 divisions.
 The Philippine Pythonstook part in the Women’s Open and the Mixed Open Divisions.
 The Women’s Team finished with 2-8 win-loss record and advanced to world no. 12.
 The Mixed Team finished with 8-1-1 win-loss-draw record, securing the 9th spot in the
world ranking.
 Top scorers for Women’s Team: Ali Preysler (6 touchdowns), Andy Preysler (5
 Top scorers for Mixed Team: Christian Alonzo, Allan Shine, Jason Lynch, and Jackelyn
Ronquillo (7 touchdowns each)
 Australia was hailed overall champion, dominating in 8 of the 9 divisions.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup News




Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup News

Despite the non-stop rain, the cold weather, and going against the most experienced female players in touch football, the Philippine Pythons Women’s Open Team stood relentless in their division and ended the tournament with eight losses and two wins (2-8). The team’s breakthrough performance gave them the 12th spot in the competition, finishing better than Samoa and Fiji, which were 13th and 14th, respectively.

Composed of 16 homegrown players from various local clubs and international schools in Manila, the women’s team capitalized on their 14-month training under national team coaches Steve Dodd and Craig Wislang. To be able to attend the training three times a week, some of the players had to take some time off from high school, college, and work.

What a team to be proud of. Homegrown, home-based Filipinos. Time away from work, time away from school and college, time away from families,” said coach Dodd who also trains the International School Manila with Wislang. The two coaches couldn’t be more proud of the Women’s Team who played with all their heart despite being physically smaller and leaner than all their opponents.

On Day 1, the women’s team first played against France (world no. 7) and lost 1-10. This was definitely an eye-opener as the team levelled up its performance against Samoa and improved its offense to end the game with a 5-11 score. The third game was with world no. 2 New Zealand. Despite the 0-23 finish, the Pythons received an accolade from the New Zealand coach.

We’ve played against many teams but only a few played with the same intensity until the end. The Philippines fought until the last minute, had a lot of good runs, and didn’t give us easy scores,” said the New Zealand head coach Kevin Toto.

The following day, the Women’s Team had notable performances against France and Wales, although they still fell short of registering a win. However, after 7 games, the team finally won against Fiji in a heart-stopper that gave them a ticket to a playoff match against Samoa for the 12th spot.

The Philippines and Samoa then met for the third time on the last day of the tourney and battled it out for 40 minutes. Looking more effective in both offense and defense, the Philippine Pythons team were ever determined to take over the pitch. The more experienced Samoans were caught off-guard with the intensity that the Philippines was playing and had to settle with a loss at the end of regulation time.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup News




Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup News

The mixed open team completed their World Cup campaign with eight wins, one loss, and one draw (8-1-1) earning them the Plate Championship (winners of Division Two) and a ranking of ninth in the world. This was truly a remarkable finish for a team whose members are composed of Filipinos from different parts of the world. With members based around Queensland, New South Wales, Manila, and even as far as Norway, the Pythons were a wild card entry in the Mixed Open Division.

Quipped with the goal of simply making a mark in the international Touch community, expectations for Team Captain Christian Alonzo were surpassed after each and every game as the team progressed in the tournament. “We won with only one loss the whole tournament, won the Plate Division, and more importantly, we have learned so much as a team” said Alonzo, “the edge we had included the style and type of touch that no-one can predict. We had a culmination of flair football and structured football.”

Qualifying for Division 1 and playing with the likes of Australia and New Zealand seemed like a dream within reach to Coach Kim Solman given that there were well-experienced individuals on the team, but the Pythons would enter the competition as an unseeded underdog. “The team just clicked off the field and this made the connection so much better on the field” said Solman on the team’s on-field chemistry, “For me, this is one of the keys to a successful team. We had plenty of individual talent, but the support and drive across the team gave us that edge.

Not knowing how the entire team would play together after meeting just days before the tournament, Mixed Open Player Ron Peña believed that the team’s faith in one another carried them to the Plate Finals, winning 6-3 versus a tough Niue team to secure the #9 rank in the world. “My most memorable in-game experience was our second-last game versus USA” said Peña, “[this game] showed the result of us not giving up on each other and trusting our jobs.” The Philippines went on to win 6-0 against team USA.

The performance of the Pythons seemed to also catch the attention of New Zealand (TWC 1st runner-up) Mixed Open Team Captain Jeremy Locke, who said to Alonzo, “Christian, I’ve seen all these teams in the World Cup, and there is no team that gel as well as the Filipinos” Locke added, “it’s an element of touch that will be your biggest edge…”

There are only a few sports that can provide nail-biting entertainment in the mixed division like touch football. The dynamics of having both men and women playing with and against each other makes this division enjoyable for both the players and the audience. For the Pythons, it was the strong performance in the middle from Christian Alonzo, Mark Roberts, and Jason Lynch that allowed for numerous scoring opportunities in the inside as well as long passes out to the wing.

In mixed touch, the female players are generally positioned in the outside wing to receive long passes to make the touchdown (also known as a ‘try’). “Without solid girls, the team dynamics become very difficult” says Solman, “the catches and finishes from the girls proved to be some of the defining moment of key games.” Such was the case in the first matchup between the Philippines and Niue. In the winding minutes of the second half, a long pass from link Mark Roberts out to winger Jackelyn Ronquillo equalized the game at 6-6, preventing what could have been a second loss for the Pythons.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup News



In the conclusion of the Touch World Cup, the future is looking bright for the sport of touch football in the Philippines. “After playing touch football at the highest level with my Australia-based teammates and seeing how well our team performed against the other nations, there are definitely many aspects of the game that we can bring home to our Philippine-based players” said Mixed Team Co-Captain Bianca Arco, “this year’s World Cup is just the beginning of many new and good things to come for the sport. My experience at the TWC is an inspiration to elevate the level of play back home.

I think moving forward, development is the key. We are lucky to have members living and playing touch in Australia [the overall TWC Champions]” adds Solman, “There are opportunities for development programs and attendance and international events.

With the stellar performance of the Pythons in their first world cup, the FTFP is committed to developing the sport leading up to the 2019 Touch World Cup which will be hosted by Malaysia. “The solid performance of both national teams indicates a promising and very bright future for touch football” says FTFP President Clair Barberis, “The combination of our naturally swift and agile homegrown talent pool, experience of our Filipino-Australian brothers, and dedicated and demanding coaches, the Philippines will be a much stronger contender in future international tournaments. It is indeed the beginning of a great touch journey.”

In the pipeline are touch camps, skills and referee workshops, and participation in international tournaments such as the Shanghai International Touch Tournament and the Asian Club Championships. The Pythons aim to improve their ranking at the next World Cup and also field a Men’s Open team by 2019.

*All photos courtesy of Touch Football Philippines