Football player Isabella Fernando said that she is honored to take her new position as general manager of the Loyola Meralco Sparks FC.
“I felt honored. I knew that a big task lays ahead of me and that I needed to prepare for it,” Fernando told The Manila Times in an interview.
Fernando, a long time member of the Loyola staff said she received a lot of encouragement from her colleagues including the club’s former GM Armand Del Rosario.
“There were a lot of people who supported me and outgoing GM, Armand Del Rosario was one of them. He made sure I was ready and he reminded me all the time that I had worked for it and deserved it,” she added.
Fernando is a familiar face in the local football circuit being a former member of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team.
She also served as one of the assistant coaches of the country’s Under-14 Girls National Football Team in several international campaigns.
The 30-year-old licensed coach believes that everything just fell into place.
“From the get go, I always knew that after playing I wanted to experience every aspect of football. I was a player, a licensed coach and experienced the admin side of the sport. I had seen it from every angle,” Fernando said.
She added that her past experiences in coaching and playing would serve her well in handling challenges that will be thrown her way.
“Everything I’ve experienced will complement my job as club GM. The playing aspect helps me understand clearly what is needed for a player to perform well on the pitch. You need to be properly equipped, mentally and physically prepared and well trained,” she said.
“From that perspective I can take a look at the bigger picture and say, okay they probably need this, I understand why they are performing this way and not that way, maybe we can improve on this.”
Fernando sees her new role as a milestone, being one of the pioneering female leaders in the Philippine professional football scene.
“There will always be pressure in this position regardless of gender. We have one of the best and most stable corporate backers in the country. We have the top-flight players in the country. We have top-notch staff. How can you not perform well leading this organization right? It’s a huge undertaking,” she said.
She admitted that her gender could get in the way in doing her job.
“As much as I don’t want to say it, of course my being a woman adds to the pressure. But all the aspects that are normally associated with women have only added value to our organization in the past few years,” Fernando said.
“I believe that having a woman’s voice has balanced certain situations out. Although I agree that there is added pressure, I try to look at it as doing the same thing I’ve always been doing and get the job done.
Looking forward, she aims to bolster her club’s effort to improve the development of the sport in the country.
“There will be programs, especially on the CSR aspect with Football for Peace that I will be continuing but my management style is totally different. I like a collaborative environment wherein everyone is empowered to make decisions and suggestions.”
For now, Fernando said they are gearing up for the start of a new domestic tournament.
“The club has formally written a letter of intent and submitted some documents to the Philippine Football Federation. We are trying to reach out and work with more partners. We would like to formally announce our movements once finalized on our platform and relay it to everyone there,” she said.