SUNNY days may have been few and far for the Ateneo Women’s Basketball team in the UAAP, but these girls are way beyond what they show on the court.
For the past 10 years, the Lady Eagles have only recorded two final four appearances in the league, but don't dismiss them just yet.
“What makes us unique is that our players are multi-faceted," said team captain Selina de Dios to SPIN Life. "We have a lot of players who have other endeavors off the court. They’re very studious, very artistic, and that creates a very different dynamic ‘cause when you’re a student-athlete, you have to balance that life."
The 21-year-old senior, for instance, is an athlete, an academic achiever, a musician, and a writer. (Full disclosure: She also writes for Spin.ph, as well.)
There's a word for people like her: versatile.
Juggling multiple interests all at once is no easy task, but she’s had lots of practice ever since she was a kid.
In particular, “Music has always been a passion of mine since I was young," said Selina. "Music and writing are my ways of telling stories, ways of coping especially now with so many things going on."
She discovered her love for hoops when she spent some time in Australia while growing up.
“It’s a sports-centered country. That’s where I found my passion for basketball,” she related.
Now, as captain of Ateneo's UAAP squad, she's very much aware of the huge gap between attention and opportunities handed to female ballers — at least compared to what's lavished upon their male counterparts, almost by default.
“Last year, we had our first televised Ateneo-La Salle game. That was really big for us, this is an experience. We felt na oh, this is how the men’s team feels pala, there’s a camera over the huddle. We’ve definitely made some strides but unfortunately, the pandemic happened, so it’s very easy to forget about sports as well as women’s basketball,” Selina explained.
“It’s a sad reality that everybody knows. I can cite instances na say, we played right before the men’s game, the bleachers are almost empty — then 30 minutes later, men’s time, it’s full.”
She's not asking for your pity. Instead, she's asking for equality and value.
“We’re only pushing for equal opportunity. Not even more, just equal. That’s the biggest cry women are asking for. But no, don’t give us that opportunity because men have it, but because we deserve it,” she said.
For this advocacy, Selina knows it's an uphill battle.
“We can’t put system into place without shifting the whole mentality. Girls can play too. We have just as much talent," she emphasized, "and we deserve the same opportunity."
The fight continues. When Gilas Women’s made history over the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year with a first-ever gold medal for women's basketball, female ballers were hopeful that ever that the momentum and the limelight put on them would continue.
And in the country’s current situation, some of these women — including Selina herself — began using their voices for matters bigger than basketball.
This is a duty that all athletes, male or female, must be mindful of. As she wrote in an article she penned for her university publication, "Ultimately, all athletes have the responsibility to speak out against the issues that affect them and their countrymen."
As she explained further to SPIN Life: “It is important that the youth is vocal because these matters affect our generation the most. We’re vocal not to spread unnecessary hate, but to help people have their own educated opinion.”