President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. takes the opportunity for a photo with the country’s women’s football team during the Pinay footballers’ courtesy call to the chief executive in Malacanan yesterday. (Photograph courtesy Philippine Sports Commission)
By Tracy Cabrera
MALACAÑAN PALACE — Stressing the fact that winning in international competitions brings honor and joy to our countrymen, President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. has promised to step up government support for national athletes in honing their potential even as he congratulated the Philippine Women’s National Football team for its historic win over the weekend.
“We have to do better in terms of government support when it comes to our athletes. Medyo nabawasan noong nawala iyong sports sa eskuwelahan. When (the former) DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports) became (the) Department of Education (DepEd) alone, the emphasis on sport became a little bit less,” the former senator pointed out during the team’s courtesy call in Malacañan.
“But that is something that we really should encourage because sport means more than just playing games. It means developing discipline, learning how to sacrifice, learning to be gracious in victory, learning to work with other people as a team,” he added emphatically.
In congratulating the members of Team Filipinas, the chief executive reiterated that their feat brought so much joy to our countrymen and made them proud of being Filipino.
“The win is the greatest gift that you have given (to) your country,” he enthused.
“Ang ganitong panalo ay walang downside. It is all up . . . so I thank you very much and I congratulate you for this great achievement and great championship,” he added in the vernacular.
Team Filipinas made history after bagging the country’s very first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Football Championship by dominating the Southeast Asia powerhouse Thailand, 3-0, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the finals.
Prior to facing Thailand, the Pinay footballers ousted upstart Vietnam, another formidable foe, in the semifinals. Their outstanding victory over the Vietnamese and finally the Thais is expected to create higher expectations as the team prepares for next year’s Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) championships to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
According to Palace insiders, the president was doubly elated with the triumph of the national women’s football team because prior to the feat, Filipina-Japanese karateka Junna Tsukii also won top honors in the World Games also this month in the United States, which was followed by weightlifting pride Rose Jean Ramos who grabbed four golds, one silver and one bronze medal in the women’s 45kg category at the Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.