The Fil-Aus community has one more reason to smile and feel so proud. The Filipinas which has made history by qualifying for the 2023 FIFA World Cup has a Fil- Aus player. This is none other than Chantelle Maniti who is one of the young ones on the team. The seventeen-year-old from South Western Sydney who was born in Sydney is Player #13 and a Defender.
Chantelle is the second youngest of four siblings, with an older sister, a younger brother and an older brother, Jacob Maniti who plays with the Azkals, Philippine National Men’s Football Team. Her Filipino heritage is from her father who hails from San Fernando, Pampanga before moving in his early 20s to Australia to then meet her mother.
The Australian Filipina is privileged to catch up with Chantelle and is glad to share a Q&A interview to give an insight into her persona and her football journey.
*When did you start playing; where and which team/s have you been involved in, before making it in the national team?
I started playing when I was 6. My first club was Wetherill park westerners and then I moved to Sydney United where I played till I was 12, then made the move to my current club FNSWI (Football New South Wales Institute). I only actually played with boys till I made the move to my current club, so playing with girls was something new to me. With FNSWI I’ve had the amazing opportunity to play with them in a competition in Dallas, Texas in 2017, and then got the opportunity to travel with them again to France in 2019 to train and play against some of the talented clubs based there.
I’ve also played for my school team, as I go to Westfields Sports High School, we get involved in a few school competitions which bring new challenges and new teams to verse.
I also played futsal (indoor soccer), my first club being Raiders futsal club then moving to Enfield Allstars where I made some of the fondest memories I cherish to this day.
*What was the process of you being part of the national team? What was the best part of the process that you enjoyed? On the flip side, what challenges did face and overcome?
I heard through the grapevine that the Filipinas were an up-and-coming team within the football community and I was really excited to join in and be a part of the journey. The best part of this experience was meeting all the girls, having a cultural connection with them really made it easy to feel included within the team. Initially, going into camp for the first time without knowing who anyone was or where they came from was really nerve-wracking but as I mentioned before, they were all so sweet and nice which helped relieve my nerves.
*What is your typical schedule on days that there are no games and also when there are games?
On a day of a game, I like to play music non-stop to help ‘pump’ me up for the game. When I’m getting close to a field, and I’m not going to lie, I have a few select songs that I ‘favour’ that really helps me get excited and focused.
Growing up, I never really had any days off as I’d always either be at my training or watching my brothers or dad play their games. But when I do come across a day off, I really like to unwind and relax to help my body recover for the next week of training and games.
*What else do you wish to achieve in your journey in football? life?
I would love to go and play at the FIFA World Cup in 2023 held in my home country, and luckily enough I have been put in a position where that may be possible. So naturally, it’s up to me to put my head down and really focus to achieve that dream.
I would also love to play at the Olympics one day, being surrounded by all the different nations of the world and playing against them would be a dream come true.
*What advice can you give, especially to young people who feel a passion for sport or other interests, but may be hesitating?
Back yourself and go for it! There’s no better feeling then the adrenaline rush you get of starting something new. Putting in the hard work and then in the future, seeing your hard work being rewarded with being signed for teams or achieving a new skill or whatever goal you’re going to be working towards as a person.
Honestly, you’re betting on yourself as a person throughout life, don’t lose your own bet.
*What is your overall message to your supporters especially those who made your becoming part of 'Filipinas' and have the opportunity to be in the FIFA World Cup 2023?
Thank you so much for being a part of my journey with the Filipinas. Although it’s just starting out now, I can guarantee my journey will be an exciting and lengthy one with the Filipinas. I appreciate all the support and messages I’ve received over the past week; no one goes unnoticed, I truly love and am grateful for you all!
*Lastly, what is ‘success’ to you?
Success to me is doing something that I’m proud of and makes me happy. Not everyone has the same ideas in my head which is completely normal. My measure of success is by how happy and proud I am of myself in the future.
With football-playing skills in her genes and together with her passion for the sport, Chantelle would achieve much in her football journey. We wish her more success in what she sets out to do.