What a way to begin the tournament.
Angela Beard did the OK sign and smiled for the camera. There were only a few minutes before their match against Chinese Taipei in the second round of the AFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Perth, Australia on Thursday.
While some players would rather stay quiet, strictly meditate, and heavily focus before an important game, Barker and the rest of the Philippine women's national football did the exact opposite. They were loud, loose, and light.
Beard wasn't the only one who happily hammed it up for the camera as they made their way out of the tunnel of the HBF Park. Dominique Randle blew a kiss, Olivia McDaniel did the shaka sign, Bella Pasion did the peace sign, Kiara Fontanilla waved adorably, Isabella Flanigan flexed and screamed, and Quinley Quezada also flexed but without the scream.
Meanwhile, Chandler McDaniel had a last-minute snack, Katrina Guillou fiddled with Tahnai Annis' jersey, and Eva Madarang comically alighted the steps. Hali Long, evidently amused, mustered a smile.
The short video, which was posted on the Filipinas' Instagram, perhaps was a portent of good things to come for the history-making squad.
To paraphrase: Feel good, win good.
Oh, they did win good. Maybe even great. The 44th-ranked Filipinas scored a sizzling rout of the 38th-ranked Taiwanese, 4-1, to show everyone that they're not easily disposable even against higher-rated opponents.
But even though they were having fun prior to the match, the Filipinas knew the seriousness of the task at hand. Just ask Sarina Bolden, who scored a brace in the rousing victory.
"Going into it, we already knew that Chinese Taipei is a tough team. We've seen them in the Asian Cup qualifiers a few years back. We didn't take them lightly," said Bolden in a video shared by the Philippine Football Federation. "Honestly, the goal (from Chinese Taipei) came as a surprise, but it definitely put a fire in our behinds that we needed to do something."
They will look to score an upset in their next match against host Australia on Sunday. The eighth-ranked Matildas are led by global star Sam Kerr, who was on hand to witness the Filipinas' big win.
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The Filipinas are trying to make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics. They have been having fun in the Land Down Under since the start of their training camp a few days ago. It seems the enjoyment being spread around has done wonders for them. Less pressure. More joy.
After all, while sports can be serious, it's really not that serious.
*makes OK sign*