As the Philippine women’s national football team sang the national anthem prior to their match against Norway in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the camera panned to Filipinas captain Hali Long who was seen teary-eyed while ‘Lupang Hinirang’ was playing.
Long herself admitted before the tournament that she would be emotional when the Filipinas step out on the pitch during the World Cup, and it seems like she was right.
“Even at the SEA Games in 2017, 2019, I’m like, with Cam Rod (Cam Rodriguez), we always cry every national anthem,” an emotional Long told reporters on Sunday after their 6-0 loss to Norway.
“Every time it comes on, it just means so much.”
“You die for your country. It’s everything. It’s the pride and honor you have to represent your country anywhere on the global stage, as an athlete, as an underdog, as a boxer, as a beauty queen, as a weightlifter, as a footballer. It’s an utmost honor to be able to bring Lupang Hinirang here, the Philippine flag here for the first time and be able to be on the pitch to do that,” the Filipinas captain said.
“It’s definitely a highlight of my life.”
Long has been a part of the national team since 2016 and as their historic run ended, she looked back on how many firsts the team accomplished in the World Cup.
“It’s an incredible ride,” she said.
“There are so many firsts that happened here. Our first goal, first win, first game, first card, first everything. It was all a first for us. You can’t take any of that away from us.”
“It takes some teams, three, four, five World Cups just to win a game or score a goal so I couldn’t be more proud of the effort we gave in this whole campaign. It made our group pretty interesting.”
Long considers herself to be lucky as she became a part of the Filipinas’ debut in the Women’s World Cup.
“It was always the goal to bring Philippine women’s football to the biggest stage. I just didn’t think it was gonna happen while I was still playing.”
She also paid tribute to those who became a part of the Filipinas’ journey such as Rodriguez, Inna Palacios, Belay Fernando, Patrice Impelido, Marielle Benitez, and coach Let Dimzon.
“I’ve been in the program since 2015, 2016. There have been a lot of players, staff, everyone who has come to this team,” she said.
“Everyone. All of them. They all have a part in this. They are all part of this journey. They’ve all been a part of my journey.”
“They mean everything to me. I play for them each and every second I can. I would do it time and time again.”
—Justin Kenneth Carandang/JMB, GMA Integrated News