It can be said that renewed confidence of Filipinos in their national sporting teams against international competition can be traced to the men’s national football team. When the 2010 roster (including the Younghusband brothers) beat Vietnam in the AFFC group stage, they began their surprising comeback of the Philippine squad as a plucky underdog, fitting for their informal nickname the “Azkals.” In their wake, other national teams like Gilas (men’s basketball) started shaping up. Among these squads is the Azkals’ female counterpart, nicknamed the “Malditas.” But following the women’s football team recently securing a place in the AFC Asian Cup, their current head coach is proposing a change in names.
CNN Philippines reports that Marlon Maro, head coach of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, is pushing for a change in the squad’s moniker of “Malditas.” In a virtual forum by the Philippine Sportswriters Association this past Tuesday, October 5, Maro spoke of the negative connotation to the nickname. While the original Spanish context for “maldita” is “feisty lady,” in Filipino the meaning is somewhat closer to “bratty,” Maro notes, I don’t like this word ‘malditas’ because that doesn’t represent the beauty of being Filipina.”
“I’m using this platform now that as coach of the team to stop using the word ‘maldita’ because these are not ‘maldita’ players,” adds the Philippine women’s football coach. “They are beautiful, they are good, they are intelligent, and are very disciplined.” Ironically it was one of Maro’s predecessors as head coach, Ernest Nierras that popularized the nickname “Malditas” when he was in charge of the women’s football team during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. But that was then and this is now, in Maro’s opinion. He plans to finalize a new team name while they are preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier, set to start early 2022.
At present, the Philippine Women’s National Football Team is on the top spot of Group A for the next AFC Asian Cup. This is the second time in a row that the squad has pulled it off. It is their hope to finally debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the qualifiers next year.
Image courtesy of GMA News