Football: More Pinays will be headed to Japan's WE League, says coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2021 02:57 PM

Sarina Bolden is one of two Filipinas to play in Japan's professional women's soccer league. Photo courtesy of Mia Montayre/PFF.
Sarina Bolden is one of two Filipinas to play in Japan's professional women's soccer league. Photo courtesy of Mia Montayre/PFF.

MANILA, Philippines -- Japan has become the new frontier for Filipino athletes and some of the country's female footballers are likely to head there next year, according to the coach of the national women's football team.

Eight Filipinos are playing as Asian imports in the B.League, while three volleyball players will see action in the V.League. The top flight of women's football, the WE League, features two Filipinas -- Sarina Bolden (Chifure AS Elfen Saitama) and Quinley Quezada (United Chiba)

Marlon Maro, who coaches the Philippine national women's football team, said on Tuesday that Bolden and Quezada will likely be joined by other Filipinas next season.

"They (the WE League) have a ruling that each team or club team in the WE League, they have to hire an Asian woman player and they're looking for Filipinas to play in Japan. So I think, next season, we're expecting more Filipinas playing in Japan," Maro said on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

The WE League has 11 clubs in its inaugural season, but more clubs are expected to join through promotion from the semi-professional Nadeshiko League. 

Bolden and Quezada's signing with WE League teams was made possible by the Japan Football Association (JFA). According to a report from Japan Times, the JFA is offering financial aid for clubs who are signing players from Southeast Asian nations.

Maro revealed that he has been approached by other coaches about the possibility of signing Filipinas to WE League clubs.

"There are already discussions on that. May mga coaches na nagli-link sa akin, they're looking for players," he said.

Among the players whom he believes can make an impact in the WE League are midfielder Rocelle Mendaño and Sara Castañeda, who played big roles in the Philippines' qualification to the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

"They are looking at midfielders who can play dual roles in the team. So pwede siyang i-recommend, but I think Rocelle is looking also to finish her college studies first before playing outside (the country)," said Maro.

"But if you ask me if we have other Filipinas, yes we have so many Filipinas that can play in that level," he added.

Aside from the WE League, Filipinas have also seen action in European leagues. Midfielder Jessie Miclat is playing for Aris Limassol in Cyprus, while defender Ryley Bugay is signed to FC Saarbrücken in the second division of the Frauen-Bundesliga in Germany.