MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will be making a historic first appearance in the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July after the women’s national team booted the Chinese Taipei squad out of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup last year.
Filipinas goalkeeper Inna Palacios said another trailblazing Filipino woman–the country’s first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz–inspired them to dream big.
“Women fight very hard to be seen, and sports is such a male-dominated industry. And for women to excel and do good, like Hidilyn Diaz winning the first gold medal in the Olympics, that’s just inspiring. And I can tell you, she inspired the whole team. That also gave us a push,” Palacios told the Inquirer at the sidelines of the Zalora 11th birthday party held at the Z-train pop-up store at Greenbelt Fashion Square in Makati City on March 18.
“Seeing other people do the same thing, and fighting for that cause, to grow their respective sports here in the country, that gives you a lot of motivation to follow it also,” continued the 29-year-old athlete, who graced the occasion as a member of “Team Visa,” who collaborated on the event along with Adidas.
For Palacios, having women athletes can also inspire young girls to pursue their passions.
“I guess it’s important that they know that they really can do anything they want, anything they wish. And they shouldn’t let anybody else say otherwise,” she shared.
She said she only recently discovered the power of her voice, that in pursuing her own passion, she is also able to encourage not only girls but other women as well, to dream.
“In reality, it was the same thing that happened to me when I was a kid. I looked up to someone, I saw a bronze medal from [the Southeast Asian] Games from my coach, that gave me something to dream about,” Palacios shared.
Palacios said there is now a deeper appreciation for what she is doing on the field.
“I think me being seen, being here with them, and for them to see that I can be reachable, that I can also be attainable, I think it’s very powerful. And I think that allows them to dream bigger, because we’re doing this for them,” she continued.
However, Palacios said that other than recognition, what women athletes need more is for people to invest in them and the sports they engage in.
She also said spectators should look beyond sex and gender, and appreciate the game for the level of athleticism displayed on the field or court.
“Whether that’s a male or a female, sports is sports, it doesn’t matter. It should be about the quality of the sport, not about who’s playing it. We need to change that mindset,” she explained.
Palacios also cited how instrumental sports have been for Filipinos, through the scholarships awarded to athletes which allowed them to pursue jobs that enabled them to uplift their lives. But she said Philippine sports should also provide athletes the opportunity to carve a professional career from playing, aside from basketball and volleyball.
“I think Philippine sports, in general, really deserve so much more. We need to push further and say ‘you can be a player as long as you want.’ You can be a professional player for as long as you want, there’s an actual job for you. We need to get to that level to be able to really sustain this sports industry here in this country,” she said.
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