What do you get when you combine skillful veterans and capable recruits?

A new and improved Crusaders women’s football team.

Under the supervision of Coach Don Derick Deriquito, the varsity team is slowly gaining recognition not only in Cagayan de Oro but throughout Mindanao. Easily carrying out routines that could dishearten a normal footballer, these ladies have become tough enough to compete in any tournament, be it in or out of the city.

Starting fresh

Team Captain Mikhaela Adrienne Nota is more than happy with their new coach and new practice routine. “Honestly, I find it better than before because we have our own separate training schedule with [sic] the men’s team,â€? she shares. Their trainings on Tuesdays and Thursdays run from 5:30 to 8 am. Saturday trainings, on the other hand, begin at 3 pm and lasts for about two and a half hours.

During these trainings, Deriquito emphasizes discipline and promptness; absentees and latecomers are usually punished. “We have to run around the entire field until we reach our quorum,� Nota shares.  The ladies are still well taken care of though, as Deriquito makes up for the harsh training by treating them for breakfast.

Applying the cliché “No pain, no gain�, all the sprained muscles from training seem to be paying off, as the team has been constant gold-baggers in various tournaments. Aside from participating in women’s open competitions, the team came home as champions for the 3rd SM Street Soccer Festival last May and the Mindanao1Futbol 7v7 Festival. It is, in the words of their dedicated captain, “a pretty good start for a team consisting of fresh faces�.

Immense improvements

According to Nota, the improvement of the team’s performance this year is partly due to the recruitment of talented, new members. “Although our new players are currently on their first year in the team, all of them are already well-trained as they came from schools with a football or futsal program,� says Nota. True enough, some of them were even able to participate in the UAAP, such as April Grace Borja, who transferred from Far Eastern University (FEU).

Nota also takes pride in the camaraderie and teamwork that they have quickly achieved. “Even with the short time we’ve been together, you can really see that there isn’t much individualism since we really work as a team,â€? she shares.

In addition to camaraderie and teamwork, team striker Libby Lou Namoc thinks it is their dedication that differentiates them from other women’s football teams. “Gina-enjoy lang namo ang game and at the same time puso gyud kaayo mi mag-play, ginahatag gyud namo among best sa game… we fight a good fight!� she exclaims.

Goal-oriented girls

Winning competitions is a goal commonly shared by all sports teams. However, the Lady Crusaders, aside from participating in tournaments, also dreams of organizing their very own football tournament in the University. “Our other goal would also be to host competitions at our own field for fundraising and in order to promote the team and to promote our beloved sport,� explains Nota.

But perhaps the greatest goal of the Lady Crusaders this year is to extend their influence beyond Mindanao. Nota is positive that she and her team will be able to achieve this. “We’ll train our hearts out to be at par with those collegiate teams in Luzon, so once other teams will hear or see the Lady Crusaders competing, all other teams will know that their opponent is a force to be reckoned with,â€? she gleefully remarks.

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Possessing the right amount of talent and confidence, the Lady Crusaders are sure in the list of football teams to watch out for. With the guidance of Deriquito and the help of each other, it will not be long before they begin realizing their greatest aim, playing neck and neck matches with Luzon-based teams and at the same time promoting the love for football.