Another Fil-Am is kicking it with the PH national women’s soccer team
Malea Cesar, 18, a standout Fil-Am soccer player and a senior at Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon, is a player with the Philippine women’s national team, the Malditas.
The team just qualified for the Philippines’ first-ever Women’s World Cup by making it to the semifinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which finished up Feb. 6.
Cesar is joined on the team by fellow Fil-Am, Kiara Fontanilla, an Eastern Oregon University women’s soccer goalkeeper, who is also with the Malditas.
“It was surreal, when I heard the national anthem during the walkout, it brought me to tears,” Cesar told the Pamplin Media Group.
Cesar was born in the United States but is eligible to play for the Philippines since her father is of Filipino descent. She earned a spot on the team after a two-week tryout in Southern California last August.
She went to the team’s four-week training camp from mid-August into September, and later accompanied the team to Uzbekistan, where she was unable to play while she waited for a proper passport to secure her eligibility.
“These girls were playing in places all over the world — Iceland, Australia, Japan — so it was really shocking for me to be able to go down there and actually compete with them, and to see the game like they do.”
Cesar was a key player for a Sunset High team that finished 12-5-1 overall this past fall and made it all the way to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Grant 1-0.
At the Women’s Asian Cup, the 18-year-old played in four of the Philippines’ five games, started one, and even scored a goal in the team’s 6-0 win over Indonesia in the group stage.
The roster for the Philippines’ World Cup team will be finalized close to the July 2023 date, but Cesar said she’s hopeful she’ll be on it. She even plans to delay the start of her collegiate career to devote as much time as she can to international competition, according to the Pamplin Media Group report.
“I plan to take a gap year after graduation so that I can train more,” she said, “because being on that team is definitely my dream goal.”