30 October 2010

AFC Women`s U16 - The wonderful soccer journey

DR. HENRY Joan Dimaandal swears that hearing the Philippine anthem being played before an international soccer game really touches one's heart. He felt something special when his daughter, 14-year-old Kyrhen Angela Dimaandal, and the rest of the Philippine team stood side by side for the pre-game ceremonies during the recent AFC Under-16 Women's Championship qualifier in Manila.

Not only Dr. Dimaandal. All of the kids playing for the RP team and their parents experienced that remarkable feeling for there was indeed a great sense of nationalism when one plays for flag and country.

This was just a soccer tournament alright, but the players from the host nation were simply exuberant for they have competed in a bigger stage and can proudly tell their friends and relatives that they had not only played but represented the country well.

The Philippines, mentored by Letecia Bautista, finished third in the qualifier against the best in the region on two wins and two losses. The girls beat Timor Leste and Singapore and bowed to Guam and eventual winner Vietnam. Not bad for a team that was formed only two weeks before the tournament.

Six of the players came from Davao City. Aside from Dimaandal, those who represented the country were Erika Lorraine Turtur, Noreen Kim Maligad, Sheinna April Chavez, Alyssa Marie Ang and Janna Raizel Barcemo, the youngest among them at 12.

Dr. Dimaandal said all the girls were fielded in the tournament, with Turtur playing for the entire four matches as goalkeeper without substitution. Dimaandal had a goal while Barcemo scored two goals in the East Timor game, even giving the Philippine team its first goal in the tournament with her 10th minute strike.

The six Davao girls were named to the RP team after a series of tryouts conducted by Philippine Football Federation (PFF) officials. And based on their credentials, these kids really have skills.

Dimaandal, Maligad, Ang and Turtur had competed in the prestigious Gothia World Youth Cup in Sweden in 2008. Barcemo, before playing in the AFC qualifier, also represented Team Philippines in the U-13 soccer tournament in Vietnam last July.

Now that the tournament has culminated, the girls are back in Davao and immediately took care of their studies after missing school for two weeks.

In no time, these kids will be back in the field to showcase their talents once again for there's more football matches to be played.

Sun Star Davao

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