Meet UP Lady Booters' Marie and Kali Navea-Huff
Barry Viloria on Feb 09, 2016 04:42 AM
"We are basically a two-in-one package!" (Photo by Barry Viloria)
If you’ve watched the women’s football games last season, it would be hard to miss the surprising hunger brought in by the UP women’s football team. It was, of course, the team’s first time to reach the finals in a decade. Harder to miss were the team’s two Filipina-American players—sisters Marie and Kali Navea-Huff, who definitely brought something more to the Anto Gonzales-helmed lineup.
Marie, 22, and Kali, 20, are both alumnae of Saint Pedro Poveda College and members of the national team. They were, however, born and raised in California, until relocating to Manila for good once they entered the latter part of their grade school. They’ve always been sporty, trying their hand in chess, track, tennis, golf, volleyball, and swimming as kids. It was football, or, fine, soccer, that stuck with them.
“Our parents thought we should be involved in different sports to always stay busy,” says Marie, who plays center midfield.
“We have four other siblings, all in America. They all played sports as well. Our dad knew that sports plays a huge role in the development of his kids and he always pushed us to be the best student-athletes. Our brother was a great chess player and an amazing basketball player and my dad drilled it in our minds that we had to earn everything,” right wing Kali adds.
Like two ends of a globe, Sports Science major Marie and Public Administration major Kali make the stereotypical odd pairing possessing completely different personalities. As the UAAP women’s football kicks off, ABS-CBN Sports gets to know the Huff sisters more in this lively chat!
How did you get into football, or let’s call it soccer?
Marie: I was originally involved in track when I was younger and my dad encouraged me to be involved in other sports and cross training. When he signed me up for American Youth Soccer Organization or AYSO, and football summer camp, I didn't have a choice. But then after giving it a try, I saw how much of a thrill there was compared to running track. Instead of running in a circle, I had a whole field to roam and dribbling a ball.
Kali: When I was little, I was always trying to do whatever Mari was doing. When I was three, I started chess with her, then at seven it was track. And then we both started doing soccer camps together. Marie was recruited to play for a club team and I was just the little sister tagging along. As we got older, we got more competitive and were always pushing each other. She inspired me to be the best player I could be!
When you moved here, how did you adjust in the sport?
Marie: We were part of Makati Football Club after a year of living in the Philippines.
Kali: They brought us to the Gothia Cup, which helped us both to realize how much we have to improve on! We always compare ourselves to the teams we met and played with around the world, because Philippine women's football, though it has progressed so much, has never gotten the funding it needs to dominate.
A year ago I played in my first UAAP game for the University of the Philippines. I'm so glad that I picked the best school and team. I'm thankful for the journey so far and the journey to come. I'm also thankful for my dad who always finds a way to be there to watch every game and for being there in my very first match. To UAAP S78 I can't wait for you to start but won't be till next year so just have to wait patiently for the comeback 😏❤️⚽️ #UPWFT20 #UPFight #PerfectEffort #RoadToUAAPS78
So, why UP?
Marie: UP for me, since I was in Poveda, was known to be the best university in the Philippines and well-known around the world. I also wanted to go to the university because of the players on the team already and the recruitment from the previous head coach. Most of the players in the team then and now were teammates in the youth and women's national team which made it an easy choice to pick UP. But overall I wanted to go to UP because of its prestige and education!
Kali: Because UP is the national university. We are the best. We are the Atleta ng Bayan, and so many people struggle to attend and we have the privilege of having a voice for our fellow Iskos and for the country.
Me: omg you can calm down turning 22 is not a big deal. @mariehuffy: it is! Taylor Swift wrote a song about it So, youre pretty much always right. Even when youre wrong...youre right. Love you loads sissy, through all the times you yelled at me for borrowing your shoes or driving too fast I try to remember how you kicked a guy who tripped me, how you sprinted across the field during uaap when the gremlins started ganging up on me, and how you were constantly checking in when i was going out of my mind during the campaign period! Every aspect of my life youve been my number one supporter, and everytime i step outside my comfort zone you push me further out of it (Sometimes literally tbh). So thanks for believing in me, thanks for a great season, and thanks for pushing me because i learned to stand stronger. Home is wherever you are, whether we're on the field scoring goals off each other's passes (#HuffAGoal), back in cali running dem hills, or repping our school and country, we got each other's backs. You da real MVP cermet! -Paesh
Each of you seems to be the opposite of the other. Marie, you seem a little quieter to the loud Kali. Does this reflect it in the game, too?
Kali: Marie has always been the more reserved one. She likes to perfect things. In football, she will practice something a million times before showing it to anyone. Like, it has to be perfect. She’s the same way off the pitch. She doesn’t let herself be that subpar conversationalist, so she likes to contribute something meaningful.
Marie: I believe that there just has to be a balance amongst siblings or else the parents would go crazy. I've just been reserved and more defensive since I was young. I am still the shy type and only open up to those I'm really close to or get along with easily. Honestly, I love to listen to what people have to say and absorb the information. My dad always mentions I play soccer the same way with being firm in decision-making but always more reserved.
Happy Birthday to my not so little sister! I love you so much and will always protect you. Congrats you are 20 now and it's not such a special age to turn other than you aren't a teenager anymore. To more adventures, school time, and football games with you sissy❤️ you deserve only the best on your day! #HuffSisters #bdayinmurica #sissylove
And, Kali, you, obviously, are more energetic!
Kali: I’m more of a "jump into everything, headfirst" kind of person. I love trying new things and meeting as many people as I can because I have a different kind of view—that if you absorb as much as you possibly can, you’ll have a better perspective. I take as many chances as possible, on and off the pitch, because I fully believe that the way to master something is doing it hands-on
Marie: Kali has always been more of the diva with the talent in singing and performing in school plays. It's just her thing to be outgoing and verbal. She has the guts to always do something new even when she hasn't perfected it and try to surpass boundaries with anything she does.
If you can compare the other to a sports heroine, who would it be?
Kali: Hmm. Ronda Rousey, definitely! She’s that athlete that doesn’t need validation, she knows she’s good. Her confidence in herself and what she can achieve is something I’ve always admired and can see in my sister. She definitely doesn’t take anyone else's *expletive*!
Marie: I would compare my sister to the USA women's soccer star Abby Wambach. The reason being is because she fought for the pay gap between genders in all sports, never settled, was never content. She saw that she could be a voice. Like my sister in how she fights for the rights of Filipinos and plus Abby is outspoken and my sister is the same way.
Kali: It manifests as a student-leader, definitely! I have had my fair share of disagreements with people. It's one of the things that come with being a fighter, though. At the end of the day, it's not about you. Be like Abby and play (or speak) for the next girl!
What do you love about playing together?
Kali: Definitely, our side glances. Like we could have a whole conversation from across the huddle. And the fact that i know she'll get it to me. It's just one of those things that I’m positive if she has the ball—I’m her first option because she believes in me, too.
Marie: I love the fact that I can easily look for my sister on the pitch. I have a sense of where she is already and can send the ball in her direction. If we aren't on the same team, it honestly feels weird. I would usually question why a coach wouldn't put us together. We are basically a two-in-one package!
The dedicated are never defeated. Support your Fighting Maroons this season 78 of the UAAP! #UPFight The Fighting Maroons Polo Shirts are available in white, black, and maroon! Price: P220 Sizes (Unisex): XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL Visit the UP Diliman Information Office (2/F University Theater, Magsaysay Ave., UP Campus).