Saturday, September 21, 2019

Breaking barriers in Cebu football

FIRST. Chanda Ilustrisimo Solite was surprised to learn that she was the first female football referee in Cebu when she joined a meeting for the Sinulog Cup. (SunStar photo / Arni Aclao)

CHANDA Ilustrisimo Solite, a native of Esperanza, Masbate, is making history in Cebu as the first ever female football referee in Cebu.

Solite only came here in Cebu last month for the Sinulog, and her former coach asked her to attend the meeting of the football organizers for the Sinulog Cup if she had free time.

“I just attended and then they got me as a referee. They were happy because I’m the first female referee here,” Solite said in Tagalog.

She admitted that she was shocked to be the first female football referee here in Cebu since in Manila, there are already many female referees.

Solite fell in love with football when she was in first year high school. She did not expect that the sport she simply enjoyed playing would be the key for her to achieve her dreams.

It was in her fourth year in high school when she became the team captain of their football team. Her coach asked her to join the tryout for a team that would be sent to Manila.

“When I was in elementary school, I just played for fun, it wasn’t serious. During high school, we just played in the intramurals then our principal got me to join a team,” she said.

After she was chosen, her coach kept on persuading her parents to allow her to go, encouraging them that it would be a good opportunity for their daughter to get to study in college but her parents were firm on their decision that they do not want to.

“They saw some female players get injured and they were afraid,” said Solite. “Naa ra man sad na nako kay ang disgrasya, naa ra man gyud na.”

She said that she really wanted to go to Manila since for her, it would be the only thing which could help her get a college diegree since her family was financially unstable back then.

“We were really poor,” said Solite.

Her mother is a housewife while her father is a fisherman. She is the youngest of the seven siblings, and the only one who was able to finish her studies.

Against the will of her parents, the young Solite went to Manila with nothing but the skills she had and a heavy heart because of her parents.

Solite shared that before she left their home, she had a quarrel with her parents.

“I told my parents that I would stop football but they should send me to college but they couldn’t afford it,” said Solite, who added her father cried a lot during that time.

When she got to Manila, together with her coach and her other team mates, she was not sure of what would happen to her. Solite said that the only thing inside her mind was to do her best in all the tryouts she would be playing so she will be accepted.

“We went to Manila unsure whether we will be accepted by the schools we tried out for,” she said.

Solite said that everything was uncertain until she was accepted at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). She was able to play in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, and was able to finish her Bachelor of Physical Education.

During her stay in UST, aside from being a student athlete, she also worked as a coach in another university so she could send financial help to her family.

However, Solite said that just because she was able to do what she wanted to do, it didn’t mean it was easy for her.

Solite said that being away from her family was one of the most painful parts of achieving her dreams. According to her, the worst part was during her first year in college when she did not have any communications with her family because of their conflict.

The 24-year old Solite said there were times that she was about to give up, but she always told herself back then, “If I will go home now, what would happen to me? Don’t let homesickness get to you.”

Solite said that she got more motivated when her parents finally understood and accepted her decision during her sophomore year when they won over De La Salle University. It was the time her parents saw her on national TV during her game in UAAP. She said that she made her father cry again at that time, but now with tears of joy.

Solite is only one of those people who took advantage with her skills and used it so she can achieve her dreams.

Solite said that student athletes should not abuse the opportunities given to them and added “If you love football, you shouldn’t neglect your studies.”

Solite is one example that with proper time management, from being an athlete to handling a relationship with her boyfriend of six years, one can do her priorities well.

Solite has been officiating football games since the Sinulog Cup 2019, and she is planning to stay longer here in Cebu although she got job offers in line with her degree.


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