Animo Magazine - - ANIMO - Words by An­thony James Pho­tos by Karl Angelo de­los San­tos

PER­SE­VER­ANCE, hard work, de­ter­mi­na­tion, and team­work, are all nec­es­sary skills in or­der to be­come cham­pi­ons and none can bet­ter at­test to the ef­fi­cacy of this for­mula than De La Salle Univer­sity’s very own women’s foot­ball team as they snagged the cham­pi­onship ti­tle of UAAP Sea­son 79.

Hav­ing faced off against the Univer­sity of Santo To­mas, this for­mi­da­ble team of de­ter­mined ladies brought home the tro­phy back to Taft Av­enue with an im­pres­sive score of 3-1 last May at the Rizal Me­mo­rial Sta­dium. Coached by the leg­endary Hans Pe­ter Smit, these girls gave it their all through­out the en­tire UAAP women’s foot­ball sea­son and have shown that they have what it takes to be vic­tors.

It didn’t start out easy though; com­ing from their loss dur­ing sea­son 78, these young ladies were hun­gry to win and would take their dev­as­tat­ing loss into the fire that would spur them on through­out this sea­son.

“We were dev­as­tated but it just made vic­tory sweeter. We worked harder than ever. It was our fuel and it kept us go­ing up to this day.” Inna Pala­cios, their goal­keeper and team co-cap­tain, had men­tioned as she re­counted what drove her team com­ing into sea­son 79.

Learn­ing from their mis­takes, these ladies worked hard with coach Hans; fo­cus­ing more on their plays and fit­ness with the ball. They worked ex­tremely hard dur­ing their train­ing; start­ing ear­lier in the year with ev­ery­one com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that last sea­son’s loss would never hap­pen again. Push­ing them­selves to the limit while mak­ing sure they took care of them­selves, these girl’s made no ex­cuse or backed down from the chal­lenge of be­come cham­pi­ons this time around. If any­thing, their col­lec­tive drive made them more co­he­sive as a unit; know­ing that each one of them wanted this as badly as the other. It is this unity that spurned them on this sea­son, as they looked out for each other both on and off the field.

“Out­side the field, my team­mates are my fam­ily. I go to them when I need some­thing. I know that they will go out of their way if I need their help. We all know each other and we share what we have so I think that what makes it easy for us to play all to­gether in­side the field.” Meryll Ledesma, the team’s co-cap­tain along with Pala­cios, had re­counted.

It is this sense of fam­ily that helped them go through their train­ing process and the games to come as they put their faith in their coaches’ di­rec­tion and process. There was no room for er­ror this time round, as they swept through the en­tire sea­son, un­de­feated. They had only one goal and one goal in mind; to bring the ti­tle back to their alma mater.

“We ex­pected to get the cham­pi­onship. It was re­ally all or noth­ing for us. We never took our eyes off that goal since the loss in sea­son 78.” Pala­cios had stated as she ex­plained their ex­pec­ta­tions com­ing into this sea­son.

Ten­sions were high dur­ing their last game as their op­po­nents hit them hard and fast, but the mem­ory of their bit­ter de­feat last year was the ral­ly­ing cry the team needed to push them fur­ther. It wasn’t un­til the 85th minute mark that their win was in reach as Ir­ish navaja made a pass to Sara Cas­tañeda which would in­evitably give them their one goal lead. Then right be­fore the game ended, Inna Pala­cios se­cured their vic­tory with a penalty kick that drew the game to a close with a 3-1 score. Emo­tions soared as this high stakes game saw the De La Salle women’s foot­ball team crowned as the cham­pi­ons for sea­son 79.

Ledesma re­told what it was like hear­ing the fi­nal whis­tle; with tears fall­ing and heart heavy know­ing that this was her last UAAP game. “Those mo­ments were price­less. A game that I will for­ever re­mem­ber as an ath­lete rep­re­sent­ing La Salle.”

A bit­ter sweet vic­tory for both Pala­cios and Ledesma as they will be grad­u­at­ing this year, they hope that this ex­pe­ri­ence shall serve as re­minder and a les­son for the team to al­ways push them­selves and work harder with each game. They have also ex­pressed their op­ti­mism and hope that this win will al­le­vi­ate the sta­tus of women’s foot­ball within the La Sal­lian com­mu­nity.

“I also hope those stereo­types about girls play­ing a rough sport and that guys are bet­ter will die down be­cause these girls can play great foot­ball and they could go see it them­selves.” Pala­cios had ex­pressed when asked what she thought this win could mean for women’s foot­ball in La Salle.

As for the en­tire ath­letic com­mu­nity of DLSU, both Pala­cios and Ledesma have sim­i­lar views on the sub­ject. A stu­dent-ath­lete’s life is, as Pala­cios stated, “never easy”. It is a bal­anc­ing act be­tween play­ing for a sport you love and study­ing for the fu­ture you hope to achieve. And be­cause of that stu­dent-ath­letes ex­pe­ri­ence chal­lenges com­pletely unique to them and re­quire not only the sup­port from their friends and fam­ily but also of the La Sal­lian com­mu­nity and each other.

As one univer­sity and school, DLSU needs to come to­gether and sup­port all their ath­letes big or small since they all rep­re­sent one La Salle. That is why, even though they are of­fi­cial named the DLSU “Lady Boot­ers”, they be­lieve that their team and all ath­letes in La Salle de­serve to be called a Green Archer be­cause in the end every sin­gle one of them is fight­ing for the same green and white and at their very core, an Archer.

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