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Ryley focuses on World Cup spot

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PWNT/FB Ryley Bugay (right) performs a balancing act as a football player and a medical student.

Filipino-American women’s football player Ryley Bugay will take a break from her studies in the hopes of getting into the Philippine national women’s football team for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this July.

Bugay, 27, currently on a break after finishing her first year in medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville in Indianapolis, said on the school’s website she is thrilled to live out her dreams of being a footballer and a student.

The Filipinas are in Group A in the World Cup with co-host New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

“The culture of the Philippines has a lot of heart to it, and that transcends into our team culture. Even if we’re not the best team or the most talented, we give our heart and soul on the field.” said Bugay, who has been with the team since 2018.

Bugay was part of the squad last year in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India that booked a spot in the World Cup after a nerve-wracking 4-3 penalty shootout against Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinal.


‘Athletes tend to bring leadership and tenacity to medical school, and Ryley is no exception.’


Jamie Henderlong, Bugay’s lead advisor on the Evansville campus, is proud at how Bugay keeps herself balanced despite training for the Philippines and carrying a heavy workload.

“Athletes tend to bring leadership and tenacity to medical school, and Ryley is no exception. She simultaneously manages a rigorous training schedule for soccer and the expectations of IU School of Medicine with ease, always being present and engaged in her courses,” Henderlong said.

Henderlong said the school is behind Bugay as she tries to get into the final roster for the World Cup.

“Ryley’s experience playing on a team translates well to medicine — she easily connects with her classmates, as well as faculty and staff,” Henderlong said.

“What’s even more amazing about her is that she makes it look easy. We are all really proud of her and excited to cheer her on this summer, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night to watch the games live from New Zealand!”

Despite missing some games due to her academics, Bugay is ready to prove herself that she is not only worthy of playing for the Philippines but also a way to thank the doctors who helped and inspired her to become one.

“I would love to give back to someone what was given to me. For me, it was the ability to play soccer again, but it might be something different for someone else,” Bugay said.

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