Alen Stajcic welcomes Filipinos' heightened interest in football at Women's World Cup | Inquirer Sports

Alen Stajcic welcomes Filipinos’ heightened interest in football at Women’s World Cup

Philippines New Zealand FIfa WOmen's World Cup

Spectators react as the Philippines teams celebrate following the Women’s World Cup Group A football match between New Zealand and the Philippines in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand—There’ll be plenty of shoppers and passers-by back home who’ll probably get an introduction and interest in how football is played once a big screen showing the Filipinas go for a historic round-of-16 berth in the Fifa Women’s World Cup against Norway on Sunday here.

And that is something coach Alen Stajcic and the rest of the team see as a welcome development for football to possibly grow in the Philippines.


“Welcome to the football party, welcome to the football family,” Stajcic said when asked about the increased number of viewing parties that will be set up at different malls, bars or restaurants for the game set at 3 p.m. Philippine time.


Interest in the Filipinas has peaked since Sarina Bolden’s goal, Olivia McDaniel’s saves and a stellar defensive effort at the back produced a 1-0 victory over co-host New Zealand in Wellington.

That prompted SM to follow what Ayala Malls did since the start of the World Cup by announcing that viewing parties will be held at 48 malls around the country.

Ayala Malls put up a big screen during the Filipinas’ 2-0 loss to Switzerland at its Manila Bay branch while the win over New Zealand was seen by those inside UP Town Center where photos and videos of Filipinos celebrating Bolden’s goal and the win at full time went viral.

It seemed like a scenario that was a pipe dream a few weeks ago when there was a gloomy potential that no local broadcaster would step in and show the games on free television until Cignal TV got the rights at the last minute.

And Stajcic is glad that the basketball-crazy nation is slowly getting caught up with the beautiful game with the viewing parties that can rival the days when Manny Pacquiao slugged it out in the squared circle.

“[It] doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, we’ll embrace everyone,” Stajcic said. “Football’s a religion in about 80 or 90 percent of the countries around the world. Probably my country, Australia, and the Philippines and New Zealand, they’re probably three of the countries where football is not No. 1.


“So we’ll welcome everyone, we’ll embrace everyone,” he continued. “As we know football is the universal sport where everyone can play, everyone can support, everyone can engage with the game. You don’t have to be seven-foot tall, you don’t have to be tall, short [or] wide. Doesn’t matter what color you are, doesn’t matter what religion you are, everyone can play and that’s why the whole world loves the game.”


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TAGS: Fifa Women’s World Cup, Filipinas

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