By JONAS TERRADO
The national women’s football team will now carry the name Filipinas for its Australia training camp aimed to prepare the squad for the Southeast Asian Games.
Team manager Jefferson Cheng confirmed the change Thursday, March 31 amid clamor from local football fans to keep the Malditas moniker which had been used in past campaigns.
“It is simple and nationalistic. Our athletes are Filipinas,” Cheng said in a press release posted by the Philippine Football Federation on its website.
“They are strong-willed, determined, passionate and driven by the goal to represent not just themselves, but the country,” added Cheng.
Fans have been up in arms ever since the team publicly declared last year its intention to ditch the Malditas name.
The PFF release said that “all relevant parties recognized that, as the (team) steps into football’s biggest stage, it was not appropriate to continue using a moniker with negative connotations in large parts of the world.”
Cheng asked for understanding, though reaction to the new name was obviously met with uproar.
“We trust that Filipino football fans will understand and support this decision,” he said.
The team arrived in Sydney last Wednesday to join coach Alen Stajcic, who agreed to a new deal that will run until after the Philippines’ historic campaign in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Two friendlies against Fiji are scheduled for April 7 and 11, and the team will stay until May before heading to Hanoi, Vietnam for the biennial meet.
The Filipinas will seek to at least secure a medal finish in the Games, after placing fourth in the last SEAG edition held in the Philippines in December 2019.