April 14, 2024

Female athletes carrying the Philippine flag across the globe

Female athletes carrying the Philippine flag across the globe

When Filipino athletes play professionally overseas, whatever sport it may be, they are not simply out there earning good money. By default, they are also representing the Philippines in an international stage. But when it comes to women playing abroad, not only do they carry the Philippine flag, they are also breaking barriers for the next generation of Filipinas.

With that, here are six Pinay athletes who are making the Philippines proud while putting in the work in other countries.

Jack Animam

The 6-foot-3 center out of Malolos, Bulacan currently plays for USO Mondeville Basket of the Ligue Feminine 2 de Basketball in France. Her transition to the second division of the French women’s league has been terrific so far as she has won her first two games with Mondeville. Off the bench, Animam’s steady production has been a real asset to her new squad.

Playing pro ball in Europe is impressive enough. But to do it after suffering a devastating knee injury just makes us want to bow down to Jack and say, “We’re not worthy.”

Sarina Bolden

The Philippine Sportswriters Association would not have named Bolden Miss Football for nothing. Bolden is a highly touted talent in the women’s game. She has, in fact, been across the globe as a professional footballer playing for clubs such as the San Francisco Nighthawks of the Women’s Premier Soccer League in the U.S. and the Chifure AS Elfen Saitama of Japan’s WE League. Currently, Bolden is playing for the Western Sydney Wanderers at the A-League, Australia’s top women’s division in football.

The Philippine Women’s National Football Team’s (PWNFT) star midfielder scored her first A-League goal last month as the Wanderers defeated Western United FC, whose roster includes another Filipinas member.

Jaclyn Sawicki

Sawicki is Sarina’s PWNFT teammate playing in the A-League Women.

Born in Canada to a Polish father and a Filipina mother, the 30-year-old midfielder had a choice whether to be a national athlete of Canada, Poland, or the Philippines. To honor her mother, whom she considers as her biggest supporter, Jaclyn chose to stay with the Filipinas. If that does not thaw your frozen heart, then nothing will.

Like Bolden, Sawicki has been to several countries as a pro. As mentioned, she is currently showcasing her world-class talents for Western United in Australia's A-League.

Jaja Santiago

Raising the banner for Philippine volleyball over in Japan is Santiago. As a middle blocker for the Saitama Aego Medics since 2018, she has done more than enough to prove her worth as a Filipino import. Solidifying that is her being named 202122 Japan V.League Division 1 Best Blocker.

Simply put, the 2021 PVL Open Conference MVP stepped out of her comfort zone and developed into Jaja Santiago 2.0.

Yuka Saso

In golf, we have Filipino-Japanese putter Yuka Saso lighting up some of the world’s most famous fairways. In 2021, Saso announced her arrival as a major player in the sport when she won the U.S. Women’s Open crown at age 19. She is the youngest competitor to win the tournament along with Inbee Park, who first set the record back in 2008.

Although she is already a full-fledged citizen of Japan, there is no denying Yuka’s place in Philippine sports, especially with her winning two gold medals for the country during the 2018 Asian Games.

Alex Eala

Much like Saso, the 17-year-old tennis prodigy is making a name for herself in the international circuit. As a junior, she has a Grand Slam under her belt already in the 2022 U.S. Open girls’ singles title. At the moment, the Rafael Nadal Academy product is trying to emulate that same success in the Women’s Tennis Association.

Eala is the first Filipino to ever win a major title in tennis. Making history at such a young age and gunning for more deserves nothing but utmost praise and respect.

Jack Animam, Jaja Santiago, Sarina Bolden, Jaclyn Sawicki, Alex Eala, and Yuka Saso are more than just athletes. They are trailblazing women laying the foundations of a younger generation of Pinays who might someday want to make it big in sportsnot only here in the Philippines but even in foreign shores. 

For that, they deserve a big salute . . . and our love and support as a nation.