Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ohhh What a Feeling!

Two days ago marked the first official win I could be a part of for the Malditas!  Last year we were not able to push past any of teams including the draw we had with Malaysia.  This year we rose to the challenge and even though we knew we wouldn't advance in the tournament, we played for our pride.  With a 7-2 win, I think we made a pretty good statement.  I am not really sure when our last win was and I don't know when we have scored 7 goals in a game either.  This is obviously a huge accomplishment for us.  

Though, there is much improvement to be made with our team and I think advancing out of the group is a reasonable and achievable goal for next year.  Our team is beginning to realize our potential and if we can get past this hump, I think our team, in the future, will be one of the AFF teams to beat.  Football in the Philippines is still relatively new here and it is starting to gain more and more popularity with women and that's ultimately what we need.  We cannot get better without the support of our country and people.  We know that every time we step out on the field we our playing for God, our country, and also the future of Philippine Women's Football.

Unfortunately, our success comes down to the support of our fans and the money available for our team.  A lot of people don't realize how much money is needed to run a football team, let alone a national team and none of us are even paid!  We talked to Malaysia in the hotel and their girls train 6 months together prior to the AFF tournament and get paid 700 USD a month each!  They also have two condos provided as well as transportation.. and they get three meals a day!  Our team on the other hand, is completely different.  The girls are working multiple jobs, they go to school, or maybe they have put their careers on hold all together.  We are scattered wherever we can stay whether it be our school dorms, ULTRA, our teammates houses, anywhere.   We don't get paid.  A lot of times we provide our own transportation.  We don't go abroad prior to tournament to train where other teams do.  We don't get the sponsorships like other teams do.  Lastly, we didn't even have our final team until the week of the tournament.  Up until then we had girls come in two months before and girls coming every week up until the tournament.  So given our circumstances, we really are doing our best.  Once our team has the support and a proper budget, we honestly can be one of the best teams in the AFF.  I think the media sometimes fails to see the positives of our team.  The positives outweigh the negatives as well.  We made history this past week and instead of praising our effort and congratulating our team,  an article ends with:

"With their early exit, the Malditas continue their disappointing performance in the competition, failing to get past the group stages for the previous five editions of the tournament." 


Tell me that after you have read what we do and what we deal with if what we do is disappointing.  I promise you one thing.  In thhis group of girls and staff, we have heart, we have passion, and we have desire.  Even if we don't get the resources that we need or could use, we will always do our best.  We are Filipinos and we will always fight.  LABAN! 




Sunday, September 16, 2012

Step by Step

Our game against Vietnam wasn't the same heartbreak as we had against Myanmar.  Though we weren't able to achieve a win, or even a draw, we competed this time and we left it all on the field.  There is still a long way to go, but we have made a lot of improvement.  

People don't realize that we used to be in Singapore's position getting beat by teams 10-0 and 11-0.  Now, we are getting beat 3-0 and 4-2. A lot of the goals scored on us were mental errors when we checked out of the game.  We definitely need to be more fit if we want to compete against the top teams in the AFF.  We cannot allow such easy goals and when we aren't where we need to be fitness wise, we make mistakes.  Our team has much to learn and improve on, however, one shall note that we ARE improving and we ARE learning.  We are certainly moving forward and I don't think we have as big of a gap as the AFF might think.  We will not give up and we will continue to progress.  It might take a few years, but we will win the AFF.  

Now, we have one more game left and that is against Singapore.  Tonight we need to prove that we are on our way to the top.  Winning is the only option today and I hope that our team can put a lot of goals up on the board.  At the same time we cannot take Singapore lightly and are defense must be confident, strong, and smart.  Our offense need to be hungry and on a top of it.  As always, we must play as a team!  I'm very excited and I hope for a good result!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Defeated, But Not Discouraged!

Yesterday we had our first game of the AFF Championship.  Although we lost 3-0 against Myanmar, there is a lot that we can take away from the game.  

We are still a very young and new team.  Some of us arrived two months ago, some one month ago, and one of the girls even arrived the week that we left for Vietnam all the way from Dubai.  On top of that, girls had school and work to attend to, so it was seldom we had our full team at practice.  Though, this of course cannot be an excuse.  We have to find a way to take ourselves to the next level.

I think it is really hard for our team to get over this hump.  We have been in the bottom half of the AFF teams for years now and we want so badly to get to the top half, but it is certainly not coming easy.  There have been a lot of things that have gotten in our way.  We still approached yesterday like we could do it. 

Before the game everyone was in good spirits.  I didn't think we were going to come out nervous again like last year.  We actually didn't for the first 5 minutes. I think Myanmar was even shocked that we were putting the pressure on.  Unfortunately, as soon as they got their goal, they were the ones to keep the momentum and for some reason we sort of collapsed.  Our team also had to deal with last minute changes.  The system we had worked on day in and day out had something changed and we could not figure it out and get over it and this killed us.  Though great teams adjust and get past it and we failed in this.  In college, we practiced multiple systems on the chance we would have to change in the middle of the game if our current one wasn't working.  Here, we tried to practice a few days before but when it came to the game we could not execute what we needed to.  The whole reason we changed our system was to adjust to other changes that took place on our team.  Our centerback had been out resting an injury for a month until a week before we found out that it had been torn, but she could still play if she got a pain shot.  So last second we get our centerback back, and we just throw her in the game.  Luckily, she is the type of player you can throw into the game and she will play her heart out and tough it out!  Another problem we had was that the field we train on is turf as well as smaller than an official field.  We had to do more running than normal which left everyone tired which then affected us mentally as well.  All these little things can be said, but at the end of the day they don't matter. Every team has to deal with these last minute decisions or changes or problems.  It the team that rises up above the problems that will succeed and we failed to do that.  

There is a lot of pressure on our team to do well, but we can't let that get to us. If we don't perform we don't get funding. And if we don't get funding it is even harder to get better.  The future of women's football in the Philippines depends on us now and with the women's pro league beginning next year we have a lot to show to make people see that this is worth it.  

So now we move forward.  We suffered a loss to Myanmar.. so what?  We still have Vietnam and Singapore.  Anything can happen, but at the same time we have to make it happen.  Do we have the determination, confidence, heart, and faith needed to beat Vietnam? And if we do, will it even be enough? We won't know until tomorrow.  But I promise you we will play our hardest and if at the end of the day we don't win, we will look back on this tournament as a learning experience and continue to move forward.  We are the underdogs here, yet this is still possible.  Just know that we really do have to fight harder than the other teams, but then again we are filipinos and we do have that FIGHT in us!  LABAN!

<3, Cookie #4

 our new kits!! puma was supposed to sponsor us but packed out last second.. so we copied their design and just left that stupid panther cat thing out.. you all know i hate cats anyway!
 so we were also supposed to get tracksuit bottoms from puma.. yeaaa instead.. skinny jeans, runners, oversized polos (we were supposed to get puma polos too haha), and teeny jackets=yuckkk.. it's okay patrice and i are still rockin it :)
 team foto in our 4 star hotel! actually very nice hotel and a lot better than the one last year in laos!! very pleased!! and def better than ULTRA! :)
 quick pic of a side street in ho chi minh city! there are so many motorcycles!! and all the girls ride!! and even in heels!! haha
 pic after training session at the game field thong nhat stadium.. far away field looks good.. then we realize its UMAK all over again :)
thong nhat
 grrrr not a fan of everyone in being in the hotel.. you have to see your competition 3 times a day or even across the hall.. there is a lot of staring down :) but still id rather not seem them except on the pitch where we can battle :)
 patrice with one of our azkals :) jason de jong and ohjay porteria both stayed behind to see our first game!! thanks for the support guys! much appreciated!
 hotel ice bath. nuff said.
 well one of those things where i wish i was on my college team again.. i thought it was a pain enuf to gather the laundry to give to our equipment manager to have taken somewhere to be done.. now.. i must find the filipino in me and do it myself hahah.. nanay will surely be impressed lol :)
 oh we look so good in our uniforms!! good job LGR! im lovin the royal blue instead of navy!! matches our flag better and just pops! 

thanks for reading and thanks for the support!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh Todo, we aren't in America anymore!

Well we have all heard of the success of USA in the Olympics.  I think a big part of that success comes with the resources all the athletes have available to them.  For nations that don't have those kind of resources, I assure you it is more difficult to achieve success!

For 4 years I played Division 1 soccer.  I had full scholarship which included housing, food, and of course an education.  Though full ride or not, the team had its perks too.  We were completely outfitted with gear including: 2 pairs of cleats, practice gear, 2 full uniform kits, travel outfit, warm-up jacket and pants, rain gear, winter jacket, duffel bag, travel bag, school backpack, team hoodie and sweatpants, and more!  When we had away games we took a coach bus and stayed in nice hotels.  We got allowances for food and snacks and had team dinners at restaurants like Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory.  Everything was provided for us.  It's almost sickening thinking of the money that goes into our program when I think about how things are different elsewhere, mainly the Philippines.

So here I am now playing for the Philippine National Team.  We certainly don't have even close to the resources I had in college, but honestly for football I would do nearly anything (I just might complain a lot!).  Though my time here really does but things in perspective and it makes me feel grateful for all the resources I did have growing up.  And while I whine about the few days we stay in the dorms at "Ultra," some of the girls are living there the whole time we train!

Right now we are preparing for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Tournament in Vietnam Sept 13-22.  We will play Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore.  The other group consists of Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  Then there will be semifinals and a final.  Because we have teammates coming in from all over the Philippines and the world, we are doing mini camps where the whole team stays at one place:  "Ultra."

Ultra is a place where all national athletes of all sports can stay during times of training and for other reasons.  Some of our girls stay there when we are preparing for tournament. Others stay at their college dorms or with their families.  People also trying out for the team will some times stay here.  Last year as well as this year I stay with my teammate and her family as well as some other teammates.  It's an AWESOME set up and makes me think I could definitely have a life here!  Minimal stress!  I am talking maids, drivers, home massage, home manis and pedis.  I must admit it is very nice and I am so thankful for staying here.  Then there is "Ultra." 

I could not stay at Ultra for more than I would ever have to!  Anyone that does I give them serious props!  The dorms apparently used to be worse, but even now.. I think I have just been spoiled!  We have two rooms there for mini camp, each with 5 sets of bunk beds (10 beds each room).  We have a bathroom with one sink and mirror and 3 stalls of toilets/showers (refer to pictures below!). I think being told stories before my stay here also freaked me out.  Apparently it is haunted with a ghost.. I do not do well with that!!!  It also is apparently decorated with dog and cat crap.. well the place is definitely infested with cats that are freakin creapy! They roam the hallways and stare and hiss or run away.  I am not a cat person and now I hate cats more! lol.  We do have closet space/cabinets, a nice lil rug, couch, and desk.  The bunk beds are patriotically painted red and blue.  I think if I could get over the cats and bathroom I'd be more comfortable, but there is also no fridge and microwave in our room.  The other room does have a microwave and rice cooker and water dispenser, but imagine leaving there for 3 months with no refrigerator or kitchen. I forgot to mention that my laundry is washed and folded at the house! Ultra.. not so much. We only stay for a few days so most of the time just washing a sports bra or something, but the other girls who live there! Lot of times they are just doing their own laundry old fashioned style! God bless my teammates! They really do it all! School, work, taking care of themselves, all while playing on a national team!  I came here with nothing to do but football and I already know what goes into that! 

Being on this team has probably been the best thing in my life.  I am so blessed to have an opportunity like this.  Growing up I always wondered what it would be like to live in the Philippines. I wondered what it was like for my family here.  Now I get a taste of it all.  How lucky I am to represent a part of me and especially my mom!  The things I am learning and experiencing here are irreplaceable. I really am finding my whole self here and I love it.  The people here are awesome and my teammates are some of my best friends.  They teach me a lot about life and I notice all these similarities between us that I don't always get in the United States as I grew up in a predominantly white town. Very few people get a chance like this, and I am making sure to make the most of it!  A lot of my friends are settled in their jobs, applying for school, are in school, or looking for jobs.  I am plain football half way across the world!  This is insane!  There is so much opportunity for me here and I am definitely gonna ride this out as long as possible :)! 

<3 always,

welcome to ultra

marice and patrice!

usually the girls in ultra have to take taxis to practice, but now we stuff 9 of us in a ford escape :)

our bunks

yeaaa anybody that complains about dorm beds in the US.. trying sleeping on these.. haha btw i went to loyola university maryland.. our dorms were ranked in the top ten of that nation.. i had a full kitchen my freshmen to senior year.  now we have a microwave and a rice cooker :) hey its all u need! hmm but i could use a fridge.. lol. 

why must the shower head be so close to the toilet!! i barely fit in the stall to begin with.  but hey at least we don't have tabo style aka a bucket of water and a bowl to scoop.. lol 

ten girls and one sink... yea i just decided to not care what i looked like for the duration of mini camp. 

well one weekend of mini camp down.. another to go!! we go friday-tuesday.

and one more thing that could just make Ultra bearable!!!! ... INTERNET!!! I hate being cut off from the world! My family, friends, and my babeee! At least we are getting some team bonding in and when it comes down to it.. WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! #malditas #teampilipinas #footballforlife


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Life of an athlete

Wow! It definitely feels longer than two weeks!  What we do in a day (3 sessions) is what I was doing in a week in America!  I actually love our schedule though.  It really helps me maintain focus and stay healthy.  When the rain and other unpredictable disruptions come, that is when I become weak!  You want to have a good diet, but when a session is cancelled you end up eating even more or worse than if you had a session to burn those bad calories!  But everyone needs a cheat day.. sometimes two!  I am pretty good Monday-Friday, but when the weekend comes I definitely splurge.  When you are at malls with endless food options, you simply cannot help it!  Also, being exhausted you do just want to eat the bad stuff!  Our day goes from hot weather and sunshine to torrential downpour to hot again!  We cope though! :)

my splurge!! i love these green tea fraps or anything green tea!! so yummy!

my besties picking me up at the airport

what a trio!

we are always sweatingggg!!!

this is during pick-up on "football friday"... these foreigners can be so rudeee!! hating on girl footballers.. have their shorts hiked up.. for real?? oh and btw we ended up beating them haha.  i love proving people wrong esp haterssss!

our team is sponsored by a local restaurant called "giligans." we always get free food here! they have lots of filipino food and my teammates are always fighting for it haha.  

oh the rainy season!

these donuts are AMAZING!! all different flavors.  yes there is green tea!! i like the avocado flavored one!  also tiramasu, hazelnut, mascarpone, oreo, and more!! terrible for our diet but so good! gotta have a cheat day lol!

don't worry i didn't finish this all myself! we are all guilty!

and then i decided to stock up on the good stuff! the essentials! MAX product, protein, electrolytes, carbs/energy!

our whole house is trying to be healthy and increase performance!! haha though one teammate rather have stick-o's than whey.. lol.. whatever works!

that's it for now!! 
<3 cooke

Monday, July 23, 2012

Eat, Sleep, Soccer.

Well finally have a chance to blog!  Have only been here for 3 days, but have been non stop!  Sunday we had a game 8 hours after I arrived in the country. Then yesterday we had morning training session from 6-8am, a gym session after, and then fitness session from 4pm-6pm.  This feels like college preseason all over again! I loves it!  No homework, no job, just soccer!  

Other than training we went to "GreenHills" and saw The Dark Knight Rises.  GreenHills is a big shopping area where you can buy all the fake and real name brands.  Upstairs has the real stuff and then the huge flea market like downstairs has stands and stands for fake stuff.  This place is always pretty crowded so expect brushing up against a lot of people!  Also expect my teammates randomly dancing in crowds when we are there (cough cough Patrice).  As for the movie theater, you can reserve seats which is nice and you can also bring any food in there.  The close food places outside include the movie theater concession stand, bubble tea, and Starbucks.  The popcorn there is soooo good! They have over 5 flavors including butter, wasabi, sour cream and chives, cheddar, shrimp tempura, and my favorite texas bbq.  They also sell the seasoning so I am going to have to bring some back to America!  And you can't have popcorn without soda, but have you had a lychee 7up? So delish!! I love the flavors here especially because I cannot get them in America I really try to savor them!  

What else.. oh we have a new coach from Korea!  This has been interesting.  First I cannot speak filipino, but they do speak A LOT of english here so I am okay for the most part.  Now, I have to try to understand my coach!  Thank goodness for english being the common language!  I think it's really interesting to see the different ways countries and people approach soccer.  Doctor Pee (pronounced like "pay" -our coach) is so funny.  My first interaction with him was hysterical. He was telling our team our number one problem was our fitness level but the way he told was "Your number one problem is that your fat."  Haha.  Oh different cultures!  And Miss bold and confident me said alright punch my stomach and he blindsides me grabs my back fat with a death grip pinch that I seriously cannot escape and tells me "ohh no fat?" lol.  Embarrassing. So now we are working on our fitness slash not being as fat!  

Have had a great 3 days even though my body is already sore and exhausted.  Must get through this week!  More to come! 

<3 Cookie 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Philippine National Team Round 2!

Wow! I'm so excited for this trip again! I am so blessed to have this opportunity to play soccer and represent my mother's homeland! I can't wait for this experience and this time around I hope to delve even deeper into this culture which I have missed out on. This time I am flying Korean Air. Service so far had been phenomenal and on point! The stewardists are adorable!!! Petite and gorgeous with cute outfits! It's like Asian Panam! Hopefully my flights go well!

<3 Cookie