Manila, Philippines – Instead of just the usual handshakes at the end of the match, players from rival schools, FEU and DLSU, assembled and gamely posed for pictures with each other at the conclusion of the championship game of the PFF Women’s Cup last Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
FEU edged out DLSU, 2-1, to retain the title they won last year, but as has been a staple at this edition of the tournament, before returning to their respective dugouts to cool down, players from both teams formed a huddle in the middle of the pitch to pose for a group photo as part of local non-profit Pinay Futbol’s ‘We Play Together’ campaign.
According to Pinay Futbol’s official page, the campaign is meant to foster good sportsmanship in the Philippine women’s football community. The official hashtag–#WePlayTogetherPH—has spawned numerous posts on social media, ranging from players tagging themselves at practice, spectators using the hashtag when watching the games live, and notably, even getting re-tweeted by the official Twitter account of the FIFA Women’s World Cup when the campaign was just starting out.
“[At first,] we didn’t think of it as something that we had to put a title to. It was more of the act of getting the girls together after the game,” says Haya Ibarra, GAU-Women’s goalkeeper, member of Pinay Futbol, and one of the people behind the initial concept.
The group’s campaign is in line with FIFA’s own Live Your Goals initiative and drew inspiration from another thriving sport in the country: ultimate.
“It was something I picked up from Frisbee. Like after games, they have what we call a spirit circle wherein you talk and you say [things like] ‘good game’ to the other team, [if you won]. If you guys lost, you say ‘you guys really put us to the test’. Stuff like that,” explains Ibarra.
Ibarra started at ultimate after finishing her UAAP playing years with DLSU in 2012. “[In football and in] playing UAAP, there was never really something that [we] would go and make an effort and mingle with the other teams. It wasn’t in the culture of football,” she adds.
Moving forward, and according to spokesperson for Pinay Futbol Kris Nolan, the group will continue with the ‘We Play Together’ campaign.
“We’re thrilled at how the campaign’s been received,” Nolan shared via e-mail. “We’d hoped that the teams participating in the PFF [Women’s Cup] would pick up on it, and that players outside the tournament would use the hashtag, [and] so far that’s been the case, which makes us extremely proud to have this positive message moving around the community.”
Established in 2011, Pinay Futbol was created with the goal of “cultivating a positive community for girls.” It’s composed of individuals from different schools and backgrounds, some with playing experience and some who are just avid fans of the sport, but all united in wanting to see women’s football grow and thrive in the Philippines.
Ibarra, a self-confessed “bad loser” during her own UAAP playing days, perhaps best summarizes the efforts of the group and the message behind their campaign: “In the end, we all love the same sport, we all love football. It’s the common denominator that brings us all girls together.”
For more information on women’s football in the Philippines and the ‘We Play Together’ campaign, visit Pinay Futbol’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PinayFutbol.
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