Photo from AFC

National women’s football team veteran Camille Rodriguez said the achievement of reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup is proof that a long-term approach can eventually reap benefits.

Rodriguez shared that it took more than just financial backing for the team to grow from failed bids to get past the group stage of the AFF Women’s Championship and the Southeast Asian Games to gaining a World Cup spot following a semifinal run in the recent AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

“I think everyone can finally see that investment pays off,” Rodriguez, who has donned the Philippine shirt since 2011 when she was 16, said during a press conference held Sunday, Feb. 6 at Seda Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

“And I think it’s more than just financial investment, but also investment in terms of time investment in terms of support. And we have had it throughout the past. And like what my teammates say, we won’t be here without the hard work and belief of a very small group that has believed in us since then, years ago, five years ago,” she added.

The last five years has seen the Pinay booters making strides, first with a spot in the 2018 Asian Cup followed by a near-medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

But the hiring of coach Alen Stajcic, who had success handling his home country Australia, was considered as the missing piece in the puzzle.

It showed during the United States training camp and in this year’s Asian Cup as the Philippines exceeded expectations that led to an entry in the 2023 edition of FIFA’s premier women’s competition.

The fulfillment of the ultimate goal is something Rodriguez hopes can lead to something bigger, particularly for the women’s game.

“Now that we actually have like the fruits of our labor, you know, be off it, I think it’s a challenge all the more to not just this small group of people believing in us and have seen us have seen us succeed, but also the rest of the world, the rest of the country to see that investment in women’s sports, it pays off,” she said.

“And I think the team is a great testament to that. And it’s a challenge. That’s exciting. It’s a challenge that invites more people to see that, hey, we can do it.

“And it shouldn’t just stop with us because the best kind of celebration or something as a sort of historical is this is to give it to more girls to give it to more athletes like us,” added Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, now 27, made just two appearances for the Philippines in the Asian Cup, all as a substitute.

She, however, had a key contribution during last year’s Asian Cup Qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan when her cross set up a late winner by Camille Wilson in the 2-1 defeat of Nepal.

Source: Manila Bulletin (