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Former Malditas and now 'Filipinas', PH's women footballers will have ample prep time for Southeast Asian Games

What’s in a name?

Well, if you ask the fans of the Philippine national women's football team, a name means a lot.

You see, the country’s women’s football team used to go by the moniker the ‘Malditas’, and for a while, it worked.

It was catchy, and it embodied the modern Filipina — full of spirit, grit and determination.

So why change the name to ‘Filipinas’?

Said team manager Jefferson Cheng, “(The name “Filipinas”) is simple and nationalistic. Our athletes are Filipinas. They are strong-willed, determined, passionate and driven by the goal to represent not just themselves, but the country.”

As the team steps into football’s biggest stage that is the FIFA World Cup, all relevant parties deemed that it was no longer appropriate to continue using a moniker that some might associate with a negative connotation.

“We trust that Filipino football fans will understand and support this decision,” adds Cheng.

The fans’ reaction to the rebranding has been interesting, to say the least. Ranging from ambivalence to outward rage and disappointment, the discussion has been lively.

Personally, not being able to call them the ‘Malditas’ has robbed sportswriters a golden chance at hyping up the anagram derby with Australia’s Matildas in the last Asian Cup.

Having now qualified to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, being called the ‘Filipinas’ may make it easier for the casual international fan to know which country we belong to, as well as being able to quickly identify which country the girls represent.

But at the end of the day, the women on the field representing the country deserve our support, whether they are called Perlas, Malditas, or Filipinas.

With the press release, it is hoped that all debate on the team’s moniker is put to rest, and we all now shift our focus on the small matter of doing well in the tournaments for the Filipinas this year, starting with winning the SEA Games in Vietnam in May.

Almost lost in the press release, but of significant importance is the fact that the team will be in training camp with newly re-signed Coach Alen Stajcic in Sydney, Australia for more than a month, ahead of the Southeast Asian Games.

With this ample preparation time, the team has been given all the tools needed to do well in the future tournaments.

And with Stajcic and his coaching staff once again at the helm, one can bet that he will have the team well-drilled and organized once again.

“It is crucial that the team gets as much time as possible to prepare,” emphasized Cheng. “We hope that the work put in on this camp will bring great results in the upcoming tournaments.”

The Filipinas, now ranked an all-time high 54th in the world, begin with two international friendlies against a 67th ranked Fiji on April 7 and 11, 2022 in Sydney.

The familiar names have returned, led by captains Tahnai Annis, Hali Long and Inna Palacios, together with shootout heroine Olivia McDaniel.

Katrina Guillou, Quinley Quezada, Dom Randle and Sofia Harrison and Jessica Miclat, Cam Rodriguez, Ryley Bugay and Eva Madarang are but some of the returning names for the friendlies against Fiji.

Qualification to the biggest stage of world football has put the Philippines in the crosshairs of other countries, most especially our Southeast Asian neighbors who will not take the threat of the Filipinas’ football rising stock too kindly.

Expectations have never been higher for the women’s team, whether they be called Malditas or Filipinas, and with this training camp in Australia, team manager Jeff Cheng and the PFF has left no stone unturned in the buildup to making more history.

—JMB, GMA News