The Philippines' road to the FIFA World Cup took a decade, with several stops in California where the team manager at that time, Ernie Nierras, helped scour every corner of the globe, hoping to assemble a winning team.
"The talent that we’ve been able to identify has exceeded our expectations all the time, from 2012 to the 2013 batch from AFC and now the 2017 batch the Filipino American players or foreigners if you want to label them that way, they’ve contributed a lot in the growth of the women in the international scene so we want that to go to the next level," Nierras said in 2017.
Among those that tried out and trained in the winter of 2017 was Sarina Bolden who expressed her excitement in representing her Philippine roots.
"I think it’s a great honor to have the possibility to play for the Philippines and represent a side of your ethnicity," Bolden said back then.
Camille Rodriguez was one of the veterans in the four-month training camp that saw the potential in the growing program. Rodriguez in 2017 shared, "I’m so excited because this is one of the first times the camp is being organized in this extent, I get a little preview of what we’ll be having in the next 4 months and I’m so excited for the rest of the girls back home that will be joining the team. It’s a refreshing thing for Philippine women’s football and I’m just very excited to #shocktheworld."
From there, progress was made over the next two years. After a 15-year drought at the AFC Women’s Asia Cup, the squad eventually finished sixth in 2018. In 2019, they placed fourth in the AFF Women’S Cup as well as in the SEA Games.
But the biggest goal, one set as early as the first recruitment trip, came to fruition this past weekend.
Bolden, who was recruited in 2017 while she was playing college at LMU, booted a penalty kick in the AFC quarterfinals, clinching the first ever world cup berth for the Philippines.