SACRED Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu keeper Mia Evangelista’s trip to Manila proved timely. It ended up with her making the Philippine girls 15-Under team that will see action in the Asean Football Federation Girls 16 championships in Thailand.
Her teammates Raya Tolentino and Maegan Alforque were already training for the tournament in Manila when the squad’s goalkeeper failed to show up while another keeper from Iloilo got homesick and decided to go home.
Mia and her familywere in Manila at that time so coach Apple Bariñan, who is part of the coaching staff, informed her fellow coaches of the availability of the Magis Eagles keeper.
Mia was supposed to be part of the Cebu team in the Festival of Football, where the national team scouted Tolentino and Alforque, but missed it because she was in the hospital. And when she got the call to try out during the camp, she had to scamper and buy the gear she needed to join the camp.
She impressed the coaches enough to make the final squad.
The three are all first-timers in the national team and are doing impressively in training, making coach Apple beam with pride.
“They have great attitude both inside and outside the field. In the field, you can see that they will give their all,” said Apple, who steered Ateneo to the Palarong Pambansa gold medal in futsal in 2018. “Kanang willing makig-ilis ug nawong ba.”
Sometimes, it’s the coaches who have to remind the girls to be careful in the scrimmages to avoid injuries and that shows you how intense the girls can get.
And they need to be at their best when they get to the pitch for their first game as they will be taking on Vietnam. They will next face Myanmar on May 12 and Timor Leste on May 14.
“Off the field they are well behaved and I think it’s also because I keep on reminding them to behave,” said Bariñan, who is now part of the University of San Carlos coaching staff.
A central defender, Raya, who also has a deft scoring touch, will have her hands full against Vietnam, while Alforque will be patrolling the left wing, looking for that opening to score a goal.
The three’s inclusion in the national team is expected to open more opportunities as this early, I’m sure Manila schools are already sending feelers to recruit them. Also, making the national youth team puts them in the radar when the Philippine Football Federation forms the senior squad years from now.