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Filipinas draw huge turnout

Philippine women’s national football team goalkeeper Inna Palacios is excited to inspire a whole new generation of players to follow in their footsteps with head coach Alen Stajcic and assistant coach Nahuel Arrarte also handling the youth teams.

Palacios, who first joined the national team in 2007 as part of the under-16 squad, said the tryouts Stajcic and Arrate are conducting would make it easier for them to discover talent.

“You just don’t know where the hidden gem is… We’re spreading our wings as far as we can and quickly as we can,” Palacios said, stressing that the Filipinas’ stint in the FIFA World Cup this August should pump up interest in the sport.

Apart from coaching the Filipinas, Stajcic will be handling the under-17 team while Arrarte will call the shots in the women’s under-20 squad.

“Ultimately, these kids need an opportunity (to showcase themselves). It’s me telling the younger ones that if I was able through all of it and be where we are now and get to the World Cup, they can also do it,” she added.

Stajcic, meanwhile was delighted with the turnout of the tryouts.

“To have over a hundred girls that turned up (in the tryouts) was amazing. The talent was really good,” he said.

“The whole purpose of coach Nahuel and I going there was to really build and I guess sow the seeds for this national team for the next ten years. Regardless of who the coaches and administrators are, we leave a foundation to carry this team for a long time.”

As a buildup for the World Cup, the Filipinas will play at the Pinatar Cup this February in Murcia, Spain with Wales, Scotland and Ireland before going into the first round of the Olympic qualifiers in April to face Hong Kong, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Then, the Philippines will play to Cambodia for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in May where the Filipinas and defending champion and World Cup-bound Vietnam are favorites to win the gold medal.

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