PH girls U-13 football team plays for, inspires Palaro athletes

Julienne Joven
The Malditas U-13 football team traveled from NCR to Pangasinan to promote the sport to Palarong Pambansa athletes.

For a good cause. The girls’ demo aimed to promote football through Palarong Pambansa. Loj Guinmapang..

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – While most young girls would rather spend the summer going to beaches or lazing around, a group of young girls chose to brave the summer heat to play an intense game of football.
 
Traveling from Manila to Pangasinan, the Under-13 (U-13) group of the national women’s football team, also known as the Malditas, played a demo for the first day of Palarong Pambansa.
 
Amusing and insightful

But these girls have come from even longer distances before they came to Manila.

Being part of the girls’ national team of the Philippines, the U-13 Malditas have gathered the best of the country’s young footballers. Some have come from Regions 6, 7, 11, and NCR.
 
Recently, some members of the Davao team, the Dabawenyas, have successfully been accepted in the U-13 as well. They defeated the team from Bacolod last April in the qualifying competition held in Panaad Stadium, Bacolod City.
 
In their interview with Rappler, the girls of U-13 were bubbly in spite of playing an exhausting demo game just minutes before. They even joked throughout the sit-down with Coaches Miriam “Yami” Merlin and Joyce Landagan, who were both members of the Philippine women’s football team before.
 
For them, being part of the U-13 trumps spending their summers elsewhere, lazily doing nothing. It allowed them to be part of a new family.
 
“My favorite thing about being in U-13 is making new friends and learning new skills and having fun,” said Bea De Luna who hails from the Davao Football Association.
 
Playing for the team also allowed them to see and experience Palarong Pambansa for the first time. Although none of them have played in Palaro before, they said that their time here in Pangasinan proved to be a fun experience.

FUTURE OF PHILIPPINE FOOTBALL. The Malditas U-13 enjoys football despite the scorching sun. Julienne Joven.

When asked about the most challenging experiences they have had, the team laughingly stated that the worst part would have to be the moments their coach reprimanded them. Some even mentioned their experiences of fainting and getting injured.
 
Most of these girls joined U-13 because football is their hobby, but the girls have enough inspiration to continuously push them on. Their joys are simple, including having people who cheer them during their games and being part of a unified community whose members encourage each other.
 
And so they pass on this inspiration to other kids. They jokingly said that if one wanted to be like Phil Younghusband, if one wanted to show off, or if one simply wanted to be thinner, one should try his hand – or rather, foot – at football.
 
The U-13 girls also said that football is for people who want to learn lessons like having honesty and humility, and while having fun at the same time.
 
Well-spent childhood

Being past members of the Philippine women’s football team, coaches Yami and Joyce said that they are more than willing to impart their experiences to the children.

Football teaches players not only the game but also good values. Being part of such a squad requires respect, humility, socializing with other people, and the ability to take care of one’s self.
 
But coaching is no easy task. At the camp in Panaad, Bacolod, Coach Joyce had to handle 37 kids on her own for one week. Their jobs involved a lot of patience, especially since they needed to form a united squad from a bunch of energetic, young girls.
 
Coach Yami said that the most difficult part about coaching was creating an efficient training plan that would help kids perform well internationally. To make a name for themselves in the international scene, U-13 had to master the technical and tactical aspects of football, especially since they are beginning from the grassroots.
 
The team is competing in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam this coming June. They currently practice twice a day at Ultra Stadium, Pasig.
 
The U-13 attended the Palarong Pambansa to expose and promote women’s football. Coach Yami said that women’s football was definitely growing even abroad.
 
Maraming good players pero give them a chance (There are a lot of good players but give them a chance),” she said.
 
The coaches treat the girls like their own children. Because of this, the rewards come not only with the prizes — instead, it is realizing that the lessons they taught them, both technical and personal, helped shape them into better people.
 
Coach Yami said, “Coaching at this level will give you that fulfillment na kapag nakita mo sila in the higher level na ‘Ah! Itong mga batang ito, dumaan sa atin,‘ (Coaching at this level will give you that fulfillment that when you see them someday in the higher level, you can say ‘Ah! These kids learned from me once’).” – Rappler.com

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