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Philippine booter sets sights on future

Camille Rodriguez: The future of Philippine women's football (Camille Rodriguez Facebook)

The battle has yet to subside but a member of the national women’s football team is already setting her sights on the next edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027.

Camille Rodriguez, a member of the national pool, said the Philippine Football Federation should start expanding the squad and chart a solid team that will represent the country in the next World Cup four years from now.

She said the momentum brought by the historic win of the Filipinas over New Zealand in the ongoing 32-nation showpiece should be sustained and spark the surge of women’s football in the country.

Changes are set to unfold at the PFF as it holds its elections in November. Incumbent PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta is no longer eligible to seek the leadership as his term that started in 2010 had already expired.

“I believe it starts with the head. We will have elections coming and we need good leaders who believe in the power of the Filipinas not just with words but with actions and actual programs that will help the Filipinas,” said Rodriguez, who was part of the squad that qualified for the World Cup following fourth-place finish in the AFC Women’s Asia Cup in India last year.

“Stages like the World Cup are the magnitude of the little things that we did on a day-to-day basis. It shouldn’t only be in this year’s World Cup that we do things right but the day after the World Cup or even now, we should be planning for what’s next because opportunities like this are big. It’s huge, especially for homegrown talent and I personally want to see more homegrown talent aspire to get there and that’s what the team believes.”

The Filipinas, who are at No. 46 in the latest International Football Federation rankings, now hold a 1-0-1 win-draw-loss record in Group A and have one more match against No. 12 Norway on 30 June, Sunday at Eden Park in Auckland.

A win over the Norwegians, who won the tournament in Sweden in 1995, and Switzerland beating New Zealand will send the Filipinas to the knockout stages where they will face the top group in Group C. Powerhouse countries Spain and Japan are clashing for Group C supremacy.

Former national coach Let Dimzon hopes her wards at Far Eastern University will be inspired to do better after seeing the Filipinas compete in the biggest football stage in the world.

She also hopes more football competitions for women will be established to hone the locals while also recruiting more players overseas who are willing to play for the country.

“Whenever the Filipinas would play, I always told them to watch how they work and how their system of play goes. Because after they’re done at the collegiate level, when they get selected for a club or the national team, they know the kind of level competition and how they will keep up,” Dimzon said.

“Planning is important and the selection of players should not just be limited to locals but also to those who can play in the biggest stages. There should be more tournaments for the local players and we have to look for more players overseas.”   IVAN SUING

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