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‘We Share Blood’ - US-born Athletes Are The Philippines' World Cup Front-runners

The US-born athletes are the Philippines' World Cup front-runners. 18 of the 23 members of the Philippine team competing in New Zealand were actually born in the United States.

Jul 28, 20237149 Shares96609 Views
The US-born athletes are the Philippines' World Cup front-runners. 18 of the 23 members of the Philippine team competing in New Zealand were actually born in the United States.
On the other hand, there is no question as to which soccerteam they support. Tahnai Annis vividly recalls the moment, over a decade ago, when she got the realization that playing socceron an international level was within the realm of possibility for her.

The Question That Starts It All

At the time, Annis was working as a coach in the United States, and she was there at a professional combine to assist a buddy that she had made while competing in Iceland. Bruno Baltazar, who was serving at the time as an assistant coach for the Philippines men's team, was one of the coaches that participated in the competition.
She remembers that Baltazar had a hunch that Annis was maybe of Filipino-American descent, and after determining that this was the case, he posed a straightforward question to her.
Did you know that the Philippines has a women’s team?- Bruno Baltazar
No, Annis did not. She spent her childhood in Zanesville, Ohio, which is a very tiny city located around 50 miles east of Columbus. There were so few Filipino-Americans there that she could count them all on the fingers of both hands, including the family doctor.
A women's national soccer team for the Philippines? That was a world away. Now, Annis will represent the Philippines at their very first World Cup, which will take place in 2023. The 34-year-old athlete has regularly served as the captain of her squad, which is primarily made up of playerswith Filipino ancestry who were born and raised in the United States.
At this event, there will be a total of 32 teams competing; one-third of those teams will be making their first appearance ever. This is a concrete example of the expansion of women's soccer. Annis emphasized that the Philippines are not simply present for the sake of padding the roster.
We don’t want to forget or overlook the fact that it is an historic moment for the country and the national team. What an accomplishment that is. But also, we don’t just want to participate. The coaching staff has made that a point since we qualified. It is an amazing accomplishment and something to relish, but it doesn’t do us any justice just to show up and play. If we want to continue to grow the sportin the Philippines and bring more awareness, people want to watch us do well and compete.- Tahnai Annis
The players from the Philippines hope to serve as a source of motivation for their home country of around 117 million people and to leave a legacy that helps advance women's soccer in the Philippines.
Tahnai Annis during the game
Tahnai Annis during the game
They are also waging that war from a significant distance most of the time. 18 of the 23 players on the squad were born in the United States, making it eligible to compete in the World Cup. The narrative of Annis is comparable to that of a few of her other comrades.

Connecting With Ancestors

Following that conversation in 2014, which would prove to be pivotal, she went in quest of knowledge and opportunities. She had very little of the former, so she left her temporary homebase in Connecticut, where she was coaching while her playing career struck barriers, and travelled to California for an identification camp, where she met other Filipino-Americans. During this time, she was able to connect with her ancestors.
We made the best out of it that we could. We weren’t expecting a whole lot because we didn’t know what it was going to be like, and we didn’t generally have a whole lot of background or information. We were going in hopeful and trying to keep an open mind, and here we are.- Tahnai Annis
The player identification camps in California continued, and by 2018, there were additional players that were in the same situation as Annis. This tiny group would travel to training in Manila every day until they discovered a solution, and then they would spend the rest of the day huddled together at the immigration office attempting to push through the appropriate paperwork in order to receive their passports.
The Philippines did not qualify for the World Cup in 2019, but there was still optimism. They realized that they were capable of competing. They need consistent training camps as well as dedicated instruction. They needed to step up their game to compete well.
To this day, youth teams from all across the country continue to be strengthened by participation in various camps held in California. The turnout comes from all regions of the United States as word goes out through coaching networks and kids come of age. Although there is a substantial population of Filipinos in various nooks of California, the state as a whole is represented by players.
The World Cup is here and the whole idea of making the World Cup, we’re trying to leave a legacy and trying to plan the future. Hence, we’re trying to create an alignment within the federation and the national teams, and it’s all part of looking down the track and having a bit of a vision at what the national team space can look like in the next four, five years.- Nahuel Arrarte, Philippines assistant
According to Arrarte, the staff examined a combined total of 400 young athletesat four different camps in the beginning of this year, one of which was located in the greater Los Angeles area.
Isabella Pasion, who just turned 17 at the time of the event, was one of the players found in Los Angeles. The midfielder who calls Texas home has already made a significant contribution to the U-20 team. She was not selected for the World Cup's final roster, but she remained in New Zealand to practice and get exposure to the atmosphere. The coaching staff is hopeful that this choice will pay rewards in the future.
When Stajcic and his team took over as coach of Australia, Annis recalls an early chat he had with Stajcic, who had previously held that position. They questioned several key players at the time to find out what was required to improve the team's performanceand make it more successful.
We need someone to stay. We have players, we have the talent, we have the commitment of these girls, but no one has committed to us.- Tahnai Annis
The Filipino culture places a strong emphasis on the institution of the family. The names tita and tito, which literally mean aunt and uncle, are more colloquially used to refer to close friends. Because everyone was given the same title, Annis remembers having to question her parents when she was a little child to find out who among the party guests was truly a relative.
Cleveland is home to some of Annis's mother's relatives; she arrived in the United States when she was just 14 years old. Annis, when she was a youngster, enjoyed traveling the relatively short distance to the north to see her grandparents because it allowed her to interact with Filipinos in a manner that she was unable to do in her hometown.

Observing Filipino Culture

Now that they are on the road, the players are able to observe the inviting parts of Filipino culture. In the latter part of 2022, they participated in a pair of matches in Chile as part of their preparations for the World Cup. There, they came across a bunch of warm and kind Filipinos who, just as they do everywhere else, handed them snacks like mangoes and turon, which is a sweet dessert that is deep-fried.
The Philippine supporter who brought the goodies also mentioned that she knew precisely the folks who could give the players massages after their first game when she found out that the players required massages after their first match.
The Philippine national team
The Philippine national team
The following day, Filipina masseuses appeared at the hotel where we were staying. It is also anticipated that members of the sizable Filipino community that resides in New Zealand would attend in order to show their support for the squad.
This feeling of being connected is what motivates a team that was mostly put together by people from other countries than the Philippines. The majority of the team's members were born in the United States, a fact that is not hidden by the players in any way.
One of the people with ties to the United States is the defense attorney Reina Bonta, whose mother serves in the California legislature and whose father serves as the Attorney General of California. The Philippines' first game in the World Cup was a loss against Switzerland by a score of 2-0.
Although it was a challenging beginning, there were some encouraging indicators. The Philippines are prepared to put up a strong defense and cause their opponents difficulty before launching a counterattack. It was considered to be a stroke of luck that they were assigned to Group A.
I feel like right from the start and always, any camp, anything we’ve been through, we’re a very tightknit group and it’s very much like family. I think that’s kind of an underlying knowing that everyone has. It really didn’t matter how long anyone’s been on the team, or if we grew up in the States or Manila; we have some girls that grew up in Canada and Norway. We’re everywhere. Then, when we’re together, it’s not about where we grew up or where we live. Everyone knows we share the same blood and we’re family.- Tahnai Annis
It doesn’t matter if you grew up in Manila or your family is in the States … That common goal is that we are playing for the country and for all the footballplayers in the Philippines.- Tahnai Annis

People Also Ask

Did Philippines Join FIFA World Cup?

The Philippines has never been to a FIFAWorld Cup. The national squad qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup but did not play a single game.

Does Philippines Have A Women's Soccer Team?

In Dunedin, New Zealand, the Philippines women's soccer team will play their first World Cup encounter. When the Philippines met Switzerland in Dunedin, New Zealand, on Friday, they became Southeast Asia's first team of any gender to compete in a World Cup.

Did Philippines Qualify For Women's World Cup?

The Philippines women's national footballteam has qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cupon one time, in 2023.

Final Words

The Philippines will play co-hosts New Zealand on Tuesday in Wellington. New Zealand is by far the weakest of the eight seeded nations that lead up each group. Norway and Switzerland are the least scary of the 12 European sides.
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