CEBU CITY, Philippines – "You will get dark, you will get scars."
"The ball might hit your face."
Milo-FC Barcelona campers Jodi Banzon and Reyanna Traya just laugh when they hear such comments from friends and relatives who don't quite get their passion for football.
At 12 years old, these girls are already hoping that young Filipinas get past the "Maria Clara" stereotype and just enjoy sports.
For Cebuana Banzon, she turns to her father – who was a former football player – for support even as her mother's side worries that she might get hurt or too tanned from the outdoor sport.
Jodi's father, Jesus Banzon, even shared: "Like when we went to Negros to play for the FOF (Festival of Football), I didn’t tell my wife so she knew only when we arrived at San Carlos City."
But the younger Banzon assures her mother that if she becomes a pro footballer like her idol Alex Morgan of the USA women's football team, she'll make sure to help her family and make them proud.
"I’m doing it for the family because when I grow up, I can help my family [financially] and I can make my father proud for being a superstar soon in the Philippines," said the 12-year-old athlete-scholar of Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu.
For Traya, though, it was her mother who convinced her to try out the sport even if she was initially scared of getting hit by the ball.
"Sabi ng mama ko sumali ako ng football, sabi ko ayaw ko kasi baka [matamaan] yung bola sa mukha ko, sabi niya hindi ganyan kasi meron namang mga babae [naglalaro ng football]. So [sinubukan ko], nagustuhan ko [naman]," recalled the Negros native who started playing in 2015.
(My mom said that I should play football, I said that I didn't want because a ball might hit my face, but she said there are other girls who play football. So I tried it and I liked it.)
Although the Visayas is a growing football hotbed, both girls still struggle to find other girls who love the sport as much as they do.
Even in the recently concluded Milo-FC Barcelona selection camp held at Cebu City Sports Complex last September 8 to 9, the training sessions were dominated by boys.
"Sana makumpleto na kami para makalaro kami ng 11-a-side," lamented Traya, who only gets to join competitions twice a year with a 7-woman team.
"That’s why if I see girls play soccer, I’m really happy because it’s not really common for girls to play soccer. It’s really like you have to practice harder so you can reach your goals in life," added Banzon.
Both Traya and Banzon are looking to make it to the final list of 7 players who will take a trip to Spain for an 8-day FC Barcelona training camp in November. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.