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WOMEN’S SOCCER GETS NEW IDENTITY

PRESS RELEASE – Testament to the team’s confidence and unwavering pride in representing Guam, the island’s women’s national soccer team will be known in international circles as the Masakåda – a deep Chamorro word which has been translated into English as “brave woman.”

“The name ‘Masakåda’ is true to our heritage,” said first-year Masakåda head coach Elias Merfalen. “Although the Chamorro people lived in a matrilineal society, history has revealed that over time, the island’s women has had to struggle more so than men to find their place, thus having a word to specifically identify brave women in society.

“In a similar sense, the ladies on this team also struggle to earn respect, but despite the struggle to gain their place, they continue to move forward. The team hopes that with success on the field, they will leave a lasting impression on younger footballers to aspire to represent Guam in international competition. We’ll continue to pave the road for future generations,” Merfalen added.

The women’s team is gearing up for the East Asian Women’s Football Championship preliminary round tournament beginning July 17 at Leo Palace Resort Guam. The team will face CNMI and Hong Kong to qualify for the second round in October in China. Second-round opponents include China PR, Chinese Taipei and the recently added Matildas, Australia’s women’s national football team.

The last time Guam faced Hong Kong was in 2009 in the semifinal round of the EAFF Women’s Football Championship. Guam lost a close 1-0 contest that year.

“To be honest, I had not heard of the word ‘Masakåda’ before,” said Masakåda assistant coach Brett Maluwelmeng. “The idea of giving the women’s team a nickname had come up in the past and we had wanted a nickname that provoked thoughts of powerful women. After some discussion with community members working to preserve the Chamorro language, ‘Masakåda’ seemed to be the right word to capture that concept.”

The Masakåda currently are ranked No. 79 out of 175 in the world as of July 7, 2012 according to the FIFA Web site.  According to the same ranking table, Hong Kong is ranked No. 67.

In the competitive Asian region, Guam’s women’s team is ranked No. 17 out of 35 countries. Japan, winners of the 2011 Women’s World Cup over the United States, is ranked No. 1 in the region.

Guam’s women’s teams have had success in past tournaments, including winning the silver medal at the 2003 South Pacific Games in Fiji. Kristin Thompson, one of the youngest players from the 2003 medal-winning team, is on the current squad.

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