MANILA -- The Philippine women’s football team got a major morale boost from the country’s sports hero and Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz before they suit up for the biggest competition in their lives.
In a virtual press conference of Summit drinking water, Diaz delivered empowering advice for her fellow Filipina athletes as they try to make a mark at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The first-ever Filipino athlete to win an Olympic gold medal reminded the members of the team to believe in themselves.
“Believe in yourself and enjoy the moment. Kasi once in a lifetime lang na makapadala so enjoy the moment na nandun kayo,” said Diaz.
The weightlifter also congratulated the women’s football squad for making it to the World Cup.
“Ang masasabi ko lang congratulation kasi alam kong pinapangarap n'yo 'yan e. Pinapangarap n'yong makapaglaro sa World Cup ng football. So congratulations, do your best. Ito yung pinapangarap nyo,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Filipinas were also relishing the opportunity to grace an event together with Diaz and Olympian and Asian record holder, pole Vault EJ Obiena, in a press conference.
According to Hali Long, they have mad respect for Diaz and Obiena for handling the pressure as the country’s top athletes.
“The spotlight is always on them, so all of the pressure, the expectations from everyone," Long said.
"Since we're a team sport, we kinda share the pressure and share that spotlight. So, it's not always just on you. The mental fortitude they have to be able to be resilient and compete on that level and success, is really amazing.”
The group also took time to acknowledge the overwhelming support they have been receiving since they booked a spot for the World Cup.
“We're super grateful for the opportunities we've been given, the support we have felt near and far... the outpouring love that has been shared with us. It makes us all proud to be Pinoy and to represent the Philippines now on a world stage,” team captain Tahnai Annis said.
Annis also mentioned the strong support the team is getting from the Philippine Football Federation as they continue to carve a name in the international scene.
“We're super honored and grateful for the management and the federation for the continued support that we have as we move forward,” Annis said.
The Filipinas reached the semifinals of the AFC Womens Asian Cup in India for the first time by beating Chinese Taipei on penalties en route to taking a World Cup ticket.
The Filipinas, who lost to Korea Republic in the semifinals, finished joint third with Japan in the tournament won by China.
The FIFA World Cup will be taking place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20 next year.
Last week, Diaz and Obiena continued their reign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games as they defended their gold medals in women’s 55kg in weightlifting and men’s pole vault, respectively.
The Filipinas, on the other hand, reached the podium in women’s football, claiming bronze in the biennial meet.