Fil-Am goalkeeper to play for PH Women’s Nat’l Soccer Team
LaGRANDE, Oregon — Kiara Fontanilla, an Eastern Oregon University women’s soccer goalkeeper was selected to play for this year’s Philippines Women’s National Team at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.
Fontanilla says that playing for the Philippines’ national soccer team has been a lifelong goal and also gives her extended family to reconnect with relatives in the country.
“For this to happen was definitely a sigh of relief. Everything I’ve worked for is now paying off,” Fontanilla told the LaGrande Observer.
She has been a solid net defender for the Mountaineers over the last two years, in addition to her experience with Division I Cal State-Fullerton and Division II Northwest Oklahoma State University, according to the Observer.
She wants to help the Philippine Women’s National Team place well enough at the tournament to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
Fontanilla’s Philippine-born father, Francisco Fontanilla, has spent the last 40 years in the United States unable to return home due to immigration-related issues in the past. However, both father and daughter have successfully acquired dual citizenship, enabling her to qualify for the team.
“That honestly really pushed me to be on the team,” Fontanilla said. “My main goal is so that my dad can go home and see his family.”
Through competing with the team in India, Fontanilla and her dad will have the chance to return to the Philippines and visit family. For the 21-year-old goalkeeper, the reunion will mark the first time she has physically met much of her father’s extended family.
“It’s really cool to see him so excited to talk about his childhood, because usually he’s really reserved about that,” Fontanilla told the Observer. “For him to share that with me was really cool.”