Cayetano's Pinay In Action: Inspiring girls one goal at a time
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Pia Cayetano has been pushing her Pinay In Action (PIA) advocacy for 10 years now, in her belief that sports could be an avenue to encourage and empower women. PIA, launched in 2006, continued to grow as it featured other sports and fitness events like all-women's triathlon and running camps.
Recently, PIA narrowed its focus on a sport that is inching closer to the hearts of Filipinos – football.
Themed "empowering girls one goal at a time," PIA has evolved to focus on grassroots football programs in its All Girls 3-a-side tournament on February 13 to 14 at the Bonifacio High Street Central Ampitheatre in Taguig City.
During the event, 32 teams from various schools all over Metro Manila played in the Girls 13 & Under, Girls 16 & Under and Women's Open.
One goal, one team
Years ago, Filipinos did not care much about football, which they would just see on television – all eyes were locked on the national pastime, basketball. But ever since the Philippine Azkals stepped into the limelight, football became more than just a stranger to Pinoys.
Countless efforts have been made to deepen Filipino appreciation for the sport. The UFL was born, football training camps were strengthened, and fields were improved not only in Manila but also in the provinces. Due to the growing popularity of the sport, more Filipinos have participated in it, including girls.
As the Malditas carry the banner as the country’s primary Pinay footballers, more doors have opened, like the recently held FIFA Women’s Course 2015 hosted by the Philippine Football Federation that gave female athletes the opportunity to learn practical sessions from the former head coach of the Australian Women’s National Football Team.
But even as football gained the fame it needed to attract fans and athletes, whether in the collegiate or professional leagues in the past years, Cayetano still feels the lack of recognition for its female players.
"I started doing boys' and girls' football a few years ago but last year, I decided to make a special effort for football and girls only," said Cayetano. "The reason is that I can see how football has been moving forward in the country but there aren't that much games for girls."
And since football isn't height-sensitive like volleyball or basketball, Cayetano believes that more girls can engage in the sport. (READ: Tausug girl dreams of becoming first 'Maldita' from Sulu)
"I want to give it [football] a little push and gain more attention for girls, that’s why we put it in the middle of BGC so that others could see it," said Cayetano, an athlete herself. "Since we've put it in a place that's exposed, I'm hoping that some would be encouraged to try it as well."
Such events are also highly encouraged to boost the confidence of young female athletes and prove that girls could also excel in the field of sports.
Aside from all the action, the exhibition games also aimed to help the Batang Rogie charity, named after 19-year old University of the Philippines football scholar Rogie Maglinas who recently died of cancer.
The proceeds of the event will be for Maglinas’ young kababayans (provincemates) in Masbate whom he supported while he was still playing for UP.
True enough, setting a goal not only to win but more so, to uplift spirits and extend a helping hand to those who are in need, gives a deeper meaning to the game, especially when it's being played by a united team.
More than just a sport
Besides being a triathlete, Cayentano shared that the primary reason for her sports advocacy is because of what she believes it could do for the youth.
She also perceives a positive future for young Filipino athletes even as she acknowledges the fact that difficulties are also evident in the industry of sports.
"It is a consuming pastime. Sports could really give the youth a different perspective in life that sets them up to be better citizens of our country. But sometimes, governing bodies think less of the student-athletes' interest," Cayetano stressed.
Solving such a problem requires only take one thing. "It's really having the will to do what is right and move forward. Embrace change," Cayetano affirmed.
With a positive outlook, sports could really be more than just the idea of winning or losing; it has the power to inspire the youth and make a change. – Rappler.com