February 28, 2024

Filipinas newcomer Angela Beard feels right at home with 'talented, welcoming' squad

Filipinas newcomer Angela Beard feels right at home with
PFF/Cedelf Tupas

If there's one player from the Philippine women's national football team (PWNFT) who's truly feeling right at home in training camp in Sydney, it's Angela Beard. 

The soft-spoken defender, who was born in Australia and currently plays for Western United in the A-League Women, is the latest addition to the Filipinas' pool for the FIFA Women's World Cup this month. And she didn't have to travel far for her second camp with the history-making squad.

But even if the Filipinas held their boot camp in Iceland or Zimbabwe, the 25-year-old Beard would probably still feel right at home. She acknowledged the warm welcome she's received from the national team, even though she's only a few months in.

"I feel like I've made a lot of strong friendships and a lot of good connections. The girls are not only talented footballers, but they're very welcoming, very friendly, and the fan group, the community, and the Philippines have really accepted me and supported me in a way that makes me feel valued and respected," said Beard in a video produced by the PWNFT.

Obviously, there are only limited slots for the FIFA Women's World Cup roster. The addition of Beard, who already played for the senior squad of Australia in 2016, means the odds of making the cut have only gotten smaller for all the members of the pool. 

But instead of viewing her as a competition, the Filipinas have embraced Beard with open arms. And that's the empowering, inclusive, and loving culture the national booters have built under coach Alen Stajcic. 

Beard has also felt right at home with the stern tactician, having played for him during their days with the Australian Under-20 squad.

"I've known Staj for a little while now," said Beard. "He's a great coach, left an impression on me, and (he's) a big factor as to why I came over (to play for) the Philippines."

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Beard, whose mother hails from Cebu, is proud to don the country's colors. While she's not as familiar with the Philippines as some of her teammates, she's aware of the importance of connecting with the country's rich tapestry. And playing the beautiful sport could definitely help.

"It's a big part of me over there and I'm really happy to be here representing all of them (Filipino family) and the rest of the Philippines as well," said Beard.

As they say, home is where the heart is. And sometimes, home isn't a place, it's a person. Or in Beard's case, a group of persons.