The Filipinas have come a long way.
The Philippine Women's National Football Team got their biggest support yet—a four-year deal with sports apparel adidas—for their debut in the FIFA Women's World Cup happening this July.
Filipinas goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel admitted she didn't realize the magnitude of the development. "I didn't actually realize how big of a deal this was," she said in a video posted on the team's Facebook page on Tuesday. "It's huge, especially for sports in general in the Philippines."
"It's quite amazing, and it was a bit jarring," she admitted. "You see all the other big countries at the World Cup sponsored by adidas... and little Philippines now, they've come a long way."
The world number 53 Filipinas will be making history as they make their first World Cup appearance. Their qualification in January 2022 was only the start of a fantastic year for the Filipinas.
They also reached the podium of the Southeast Asian Games, winning a bronze for the first time in 37 years. They also defeated powerhouse Thailand at the Rizal Memorial Stadium for a historic first ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women's Championship.
This July, they will be going up against 13th-ranked Norway, number 21 Sweden, and number 24 New Zealand in Group A of the World Cup.
"We're not just a ragtag group of girls anymore. We're the real deal," McDaniel said. "We should be taken seriously."
The Filipinas will be getting much needed training starting this week in the Pinatar Cup. They will take on Wales on February 16 at 3:30 AM, Scotland on February 18 at 10:00 PM, and Iceland on February 22, 3:30 AM, Manila time.
"It's crazy to see that we are able to bring light to the Philippines, and to girls and boys, and show them it doesn't matter where you come from, it doesn't matter who you are," defender Sofia Harrison said. "You can still make a difference in the country and in the world."