U14 Team member Arianna Lepage stepped up for her Flag and country

Santino Honasan on Jun 07, 2016 06:22 PM
U14's Arianna Lepage stepped up for her Flag and country
“You have to do what you have to do for the team.” - Arianna Lepage (11) on transitioning from striker to keeper for the AFC Regional Championships

When Philippine Girls Under-14 National Team Assistant Coach Belay Fernando addressed everyone present at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) House of Football in Pasig City, Tuesday afternoon, she made sure to give a special shoutout to one certain member of the silver medal-winning team. 

“I want to give a special mention to Arianna Lepage, for stepping up.” Coach Belay said. “It’s very difficult what she had to do, but she had a great attitude and I think that she played a really big role in us getting there.”

As it turns out, Arianna had to transition from being the front line of the offense to the last line of defense. 

Due to passport problems, keeper Rizamae Ugbaniel wasn’t able to join the national team on their AFC Under-14 Girls Regional Championships stint in Vientiane, Laos. Needing two keepers to complete the lineup, Arianna answered the call and went from being one of the squad’s best strikers to the backup keeper. 

Arianna was the only one on the squad who had experience playing keeper, so it was a sacrifice, a transition that she made for the good of the team. 

“You have to do what you have to do for the team.” Arianna told ABS-CBN Sports. “Since I had experience as a goalie, it was easier than having a non-experienced player go to goal, so I was totally fine with the transition, although it was very last minute. 

Coach Belay also revealed that Arianna stayed positive through the whole adjustment, and even ended up starting as keeper during the semifinals against Myanmar and the finals against Thailand. 

When asked what her mindset was throughout the whole situation, Arianna maintained that it was all about what was good for the team.

“Just do what you can for the team, to help out as much as you can.”

This was just one of the obstacles that the girls had to face on their 45-day campaign, but for Arianna, it was all worth it in the end. 

“Throughout the entire experience, there’s been a lot of hardships, but in the end it’s all worth it, doing this for our country, for our Flag.”

Based in Southern California, the AFC Regional Championships was the 13-year old’s first time to represent the country and for her, among everything, it was the bond that she made with her teammates that stuck with her the most. 

“I think it’s just the experience, playing with these girls, and playing at such a high level, it just gives you such a boost.”

Arianna and the rest of the Under-14 girls are are definitely proof that big things are in store for Philippine women’s football in the near future. 

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