Philippine Futsal Stories: Putting hold a life-changing move for another life-changing move
Pia Bokingkito
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Philippine Futsal Stories: Putting hold a life-changing move for another life-changing move

Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - November 18, 2020 - 4:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — Early this 2020, Pia Patrice Bokingkito was on her way to enroll in her local school in Dumaguete City when she received a call that would… well… change her life.

It was a scholarship to the Inspire Raya High School for Sports where she could continue to play futsal under a training pool for a future national women’s futsal team.

The Inspire Raya HS is the first of its kinds sports school in the Philippines, organized in partnership between the Inspire Sports Academy and the Raya School. The girls’ futsal scholarship program is being supported by the MVP Sports Foundation and the Henry V. Moran Foundation.

“Amazing” is the only word that the bespectacled 17-year-old lass could describe.

When she was 12 years old, she represented the Philippines in a football competition in Japan. While the result is forgettable, the experience isn’t.

Like many who have represented flag and country, Bokingkito’s was grateful for the opportunity. It was nerve-wracking and eye-opening on an athletic and cultural level.

And yet, the girl of a few words described it once more with one word… “pride.”

The game of futsal has been kind to her. During the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational held in Bacolod in 2019, she caught the eye of Dutch and international futsal legend Vic Hermans along with Philippine Football Federation officials who were scouting the local talents in the region. 

The funny thing is, they didn’t know her name. But Hermans noted that aside from her obvious talent for the game, she had a distinctive feature… she wore “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
goggles.”

“Sports goggles,” she kindly corrected.

There is a magic of kicking a ball and scoring goals that makes one swell with pride. Growing up in Dumaguete, Bokingkito played 11-a-side football but fell in love when introduced to futsal.

“With the introduction of futsal in athletic meets, I feel in love with it,” she described. “I thought futsal was football on concrete. But when I attended the Allianz futsal event, I
realized it is a complex sport and it made me want to play real futsal.”

And now, she’s part of the start of a new national futsal team.

Or she hopes that she can continue.

During the quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her family received word that their immigration papers to Canada were 90% complete. 

That meant a move to the Great White North could happen sometime in the first quarter of 2021.

As torn as she is between family and this life-changing move, she would like to give her futsal and national team career a chance. Even if only for a bit.

“The tough part was convincing my parents that it is a good idea to go to the Inspire Raya Academy and to continue to play for the national team.”

Bokingkito admits to not knowing Hermans even when he personally awarded her a Best Player Award along with a jersey and playing shorts. But when she learned of his stature and his plans in transforming Philippine futsal, it made her all the more want to grab this opportunity. 

Hermans aims to bring together the best 16 to 18 year old futsal girls from across the country to train under a program he will setup in the country for at least 2 years, and he did not forget the girl with the sports goggles from Dumaguete when it came time to list down names in an initial pool.

“The program that he is advocating is cool,” she succinctly put. “I love football and futsal and seeing that he is helping train the future generation of players is a great opportunity for the country and for myself.”

Furthermore, she loves the new-found attention that women’s sports are receiving in general. “It’s definitely cool that women’s sports is given more attention. It shows what female athletes can do. It gives more opportunities for younger girls that translates into more opportunities in higher levels.”

Now all Pia Bokingkito hopes is to help provide that life-changing experience not only for herself, but also for Philippine futsal.

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