The debutant Filipinas, considered underdogs, secured a 1-0 triumph over co-host New Zealand in Wellington, triggering exuberant festivities even 5,000 miles away.
Sports often bring the best of teams together and unite fans who feel the losses and the wins of the team. It's a feeling of community and one goal scored can elevate that feeling. This was the case for only sports where men dominantly played. However, times are changing and women players have proved one too many times that sports can unite people irrespective of who plays it.
After the Philippines' historic first Women's World Cup victory, hundreds of soccer fans celebrated wildly and some cried. The underdog and debutant Filipinas beat co-host New Zealand 1-0 in Wellington, sparking celebrations more than 5,000 miles away. Fans erupt in screams and songs as they watched the match live on a big screen at the UP Town Center shopping mall in Manila's capital. Some even burst into happy tears as Sarina Bolden scored the game-winning goal.
When Bolden headed the ball into the net in the first half, fans, many of whom were dressed in the national team's blue, white, and red, yelled, hugged and jumped up and down with joy. Fans in the air-conditioned mall were nervous as they watched New Zealand come agonizingly close to tying the game in the second half. Soccer is not as popular in the Philippines as basketball or boxing and the majority of the players on the women's national team were recruited from the country's large diaspora, according to Inquirer.Net. This victory, however, was special for Filipino fans at UP Town Center.
Fans at a mall in the Philippines respond to Women's National Team's first-ever World Cup goal—which proved to be match-winner—in tournament debut. World Cup's ability to trigger these moments of shared, spontaneous joy always something to behold. 🇵🇭🙌❤️pic.twitter.com/Uh8OOn02ak— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) July 25, 2023
Bolden scored the game-winning goal in the 24th minute and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel, one of 18 US-born or based players in the Philippines squad worked tirelessly to frustrate New Zealand's desperate rally. New Zealand was unable to recover after conceding Bolden's goal against the run of play. It had 80% possession before Bolden, who was born in Santa Clara, scored the Philippines' first goal, observes AP News. "I’ve got everyone else’s tears all over my eyes, it’s so emotional," Philippines coach Alen Stajcic said.
"You saw how long New Zealand had to wait for its first win — six World Cups — and for the Philippines to get it today was incredible. We made our own luck but we also had a lot of luck. New Zealand was on the front foot the whole game and deserved something. However, soccer is cruel sometimes." New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova said, "We were dominating the game tonight, we were keeping the ball. There were too many unforced turnovers. We didn’t see those turnovers in our game against Norway."
This guy that just starts crying. I love this game. pic.twitter.com/gUcyl7Qimo— Randy (@randywilson) July 26, 2023
This is beautiful. Great for the Philippines! They deserved the win, a wonderful effort and now have a chance to advance.— Jason (@BigJay_62) July 25, 2023
Bolden, eligible to represent both the United States and the Philippines, had never visited an Asian country before joining the national team. She's now one of the team's most well-known players. "Everyone’s really excited for what’s to come and to really shock the world," she told CNN ahead of the Women’s World Cup. "I know soccer isn’t the main sport in the Philippines. But, I think by seeing us on the big screen, on the big stage, I think more people are going to be really interested and want to get into soccer."
"I literally can’t put it into words," Bolden said afterward. "This has been a dream of mine as a little kid to just be here at the World Cup, let alone even score. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, the staff, the fans, the Philippines as a whole. It’s just amazing right now to feel this win and this energy in this stadium right now, so it’s just amazing."