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Futsal makes comeback as 'Pinay 5' takes on Guam in friendly series

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The fast-paced game of futsal is making a grand comeback as an all-girl squad representing the Philippines battles Guam in a two-match friendly series this weekend at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The "Pinay 5" squad takes on Guam at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as they look to make futsal, the indoor version of football, relevant again amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philippine Football Federation futsal department head Kevin Goco said that bringing the girls, ranked 54th in the world, into action is a great way to jumpstart the revival of the Philippine futsal teams.

"These international friendlies are our first step towards reestablishing our national team program. From these first two games, we'll be able to assess our strengths and weakness and then be able to come up with a plan long-term," Goco said during the pre-match press conference on Friday at the said arena. "Why the women? Because Coach Vic Hermans, our technical director and coach, really feels very strongly that the Philippines has a lot of potential with women's futsal."

Most of the players of the "Pinay 5" are from the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Foundation, and according to Goco, it was not a hard choice on bringing them into the fold as they continued training amid the COVID-19 lockdown that stopped almost all of the traditional sports for a while.

"I think we have a good relationship. Tuloy sa Don Bosco, for the past two years of the pandemic, has been training continuously, sometimes two to three times a day, so the pandemic didn't stop them. So when things started to open up again, naturally, the fittest girls--those who really still have their fitness and skills--are really the Don Bosco girls compared to the girls who have stopped completely playing futsal," Goco further said, adding that they stood out when they saw action in the U23 Women's Futsal League earlier this year.

Goco also said that the futsal battles will help Guam strengthen its fledging program as well.

"I think it's a good assessment for both teams because both of us are really just starting out, but both Guam and the Philippines feel very strongly that there is a future for women's futsal in the region," Goco further said.

Admission for both matches is free, but due to the Ninoy Aquino Stadium's capacity limit, tickets can be reserved through the Futsal Philippines' Facebook page.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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