‘Play soccer and go live your dreams’: Bolden’s goal to inspire Filipino players

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The 2022 Asian Cup has been historic for the Philippines women’s national team in many ways, and striker Sarina Bolden is hoping it inspires the next generation.

The 64th ranked side in the latest FIFA rankings have punched well above their weight, securing their first World Cup spot after a penalty shootout victory in the quarter finals.

Their campaign has captured the imagination of a nation, with local companies Eleven Sports and Cignal TV broadcasting the Philippines victory over Chinese Taipei on free-to-air television.

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Even more Filipinos tuned in for their semi-final clash against South Korea.

For star striker Bolden, she hopes the unprecedented publicity at the Cup and their success will inspire players back in the Philippines.

Whether this be young girls or older women, she wants to help show them that with hard work, anything is possible.

“I just hope we inspire all ages of women to play soccer and to go and live your dreams,” she said.

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“I think people will see us and be like ‘Wow, that’s amazing, I want to go out there and do that. I want to be like those girls on the TV. If they can do it, I can do it’. I hope that’s what we instil in younger girls or even girls that are my age, 25, 26 or 27,” she said.

“Sometimes things happen in life where you’re not able to continue soccer. Maybe by seeing us, girls in their 20’s are inspired and want to go back and put those boots on, lace them up and give it another shot.”

Over the past decade women’s football in the country has grown to levels never seen before.

For those women wanting to play in the South East Asian nation there is currently the PFF Women’s League, a completely amateur league founded in 2016 with the goal of helping develop the next generation of local talent.

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That goal has clearly come to fruition, with the national team qualifying for both Asian Cup tournaments since its inaugural season.

National squad members including Sara Castañeda and Inna Palacios have played in this competition, giving local players a chance to test themselves against the nation’s best.

For Bolden, whilst it is pleasing that the competition is established, she knows there can always be more done.

“As far as a professional league in the Philippines I think that there is already a good foundation,” she said.

“Maybe we should continue to cultivate something within the Philippines to keep that high competition and that high level.”

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Unfortunately, due to COVID, the league has not run for nearly two years, and there are no plans that it will change in the not-too-distant future.

Whilst the Philippines did fall to a 2-0 defeat against South Korea in the semi-finals, many players around the nation got the opportunity to watch their team play for the first time via free-to-air television.

In doing so they saw a side with a never give up attitude, taking it to the best in Asia, and accomplishing their goal after months of hard work.

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For Bolden, all she wants for those who watched the team for the first-time throughout the tournament, is to remember them and to use them as motivation.

For Bolden, all she wants for those who watched the team for the first time is to remember them and to use them as motivation.

“I just want us to make a lasting impression in people’s minds. Fans, coaches, our peers, other girls playing out there, I just want us to be remembered,” she said.

Feature Image Credit: AFC

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William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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