Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Ex-athlete rallies behind Pinay booters

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Former national team member Miriam Merlin endured a taxing 23-hour journey just to rally behind the Filipinas who will make their debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Switzerland on Friday at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

“I am here because this is historic, something that should not be missed by sports fans,” Merlin, who once donned the national jersey under the late Orlando Plagata, said in a chance interview at a hotel here Thursday.

To save funds, Merlin, who was tapped as the youngest national team recruit at 17 during the 1993 Philippine National Games in Baguio City, revealed that she took a flight on a budget carrier with stopovers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Sydney, Australia, before arriving here.

“I arrived here at 4 p.m. last Wednesday because I want to see the Filipinas play,” said Merlin, who has been coaching the multi-titled La Salle Lipa high school girls squad for the past 25 years while serving as Grade 9 Physical Education teacher.

She showed a copy of her old Philippine Football Federation identification card that she keeps as a treasured memento, a proof that she once donned the national colors, and added that among her contemporaries were former national women’s coaches Leticia “Buda” Bautista and Lelet Dimzon.

“We all played under Sir Plagy (Plagata) and we learned a lot from him,” said Merlin endearingly of the low-key mentor who also won several women’s football championships for Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Far Eastern University.

Although she was unable to savor success in the regular 11-aside football, she cherished the bronze medal that the national futsal squad of coach Manny Batungbacal won in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in the Thai capital of Bangkok.

That medal remains as the only one that country has garnered in international futsal play.

Merlin, who was in the process of completing the final grades of her students back home, added that she was able to get permission from her school supervisor to witness the Filipinas in action in the blue-ribbon competition featuring the best world women’s football players.

She was accompanied by her former La Salle-Lipa player, Kathleen de Torres, who works here as a nurse, to the first Group A match between host New Zealand and Norway at the iconic Eden Park on Thursday.

“When I saw the Filipinas win the AFF Women’s Championship last year, that’s when I decided to save up to watch the World Cup despite the protest of my siblings,” said Merlin, who is still single at 47.

“I want to witness the sacrifices of the players. This is the highest level of competition. It is a big honor to be included in the World Cup. And that is the biggest reason why I saved.”

She added that the Filipinas are part of her prayers.

“Like everyone else back home, we are praying for the best. Definitely, it’s not an easy task. But we are praying and hoping that they qualify for the next round,” she said.

“That’s what I prayed for last night. They should take it one game at a time.”

Hopefully, the Filipinas will make her trip — and prayers — worth it.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like


Manny Pacquiao knows his time is up. This was the keen observation made by a longtime member of his training team who spent dinner...


The dynamic duo of Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna and Danerie James “Wise” del Rosario is back with a bang after leading Blacklist International to a...


The University Athletic Association of the Philippines will have a full calendar of sports events for Season 85 starting 1 October. UAAP President Fr....


ECHO has revealed its roster for the upcoming M4 Mobile Legends World Championship to be held 1-15 January 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The seven...


It’s going to be business as usual as the Philippine Basketball Association will not stop its on-court activities when it gives way for the...


It doesn’t look as if newly-crowned Melvin Jerusalem will get the luxury of defending his minimumweight crown against a handpicked rival after the World...


Mitchell, meanwhile, is a six-foot shooting guard frowm Hartford University.


Legendary boxing referee Carlos ‘Sonny’ Padilla was recently inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. Famous for serving as the third man in...