Soccer player

Philippine national footballer Hali Long lives in Springfield, IL

The most notable football player who resides in Springfield is largely unknown locally.

She was not born here, she has never played here and she does not train here.

Hali Moriah Candido Long is a central defender of the Philippine National Women’s Football Team who works at Starbucks on Monroe Street. Long has been playing for the Philippines women’s soccer team since 2016.

Born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, she graduated from Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri in 2013, then played football at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. She first attended a tryout for the Philippine Women’s National Football Team in California in 2013 – a year after tearing an ACL. This try was more of a way to compete against other high-caliber players. In 2016, she tried again and was invited to join the national team.

She came to Springfield in December 2019 to stay with her maternal aunt, Janette Candido, for an extended Christmas vacation. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented her from returning to the Philippines and then a major leg operation that extended her stay in May.

During Long’s college offseason, she was playing for the national team. The wear and tear has taken its toll on his body.

“It has become chronic all the time; I developed osteoarthritis and a bunch of other things and I used up my knee a lot, never giving myself a break, ”Long said.

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Springfield became Long’s home during recovery from a distal femoral osteotomy, a procedure she described as fixing the alignment of her leg.

“They took a corner off the distal edge of my femur and put it in place with a 6-inch plate and eight screws in my leg to straighten me up, while securing my meniscus,” Long said.

Back to competition

Long, 26, knew the operation could potentially end her playing career. But even though she was physically able to play, she wasn’t sure she was at the same level as before.

“I was going to try to get the game back,” Long said. “I definitely had to do a tournament, a campaign after this operation and with COVID, I had a lot of time to recover.

“If my body completely rejects training and can’t handle this level of play then I know what to do with my life, but if it can (handle it) then I’m going to keep playing because I “We gave a new leg, basically. ”

Long suffered a setback during his recovery and was only able to run fully until April of this year. Three months later, she was due again to compete in the national team trials ahead of the Women’s Asian Cup tournament as the Philippines tried to carve out a place in the Women’s World Cup for the first time. In 2018, the Philippines finished sixth in the Asian Women’s Cup, one place in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Despite Long’s veteran status, with the lengthy layoff due to COVID-19, he was told everyone had to try again.

“I was really nervous because I didn’t know if I was ready, I didn’t know if I was ready for full contact,” Long said. “An essay is not just a contact; you go hard, you show yourself and I knew there would be younger girls coming out, whether in college or out of college, knowing that I’m here too trying , knowing that I’ve been with this team for five years (and that player mindset would be), ‘I have nothing to lose, they have their place to lose.’

Between the operation and the trials, she only played one game with the Women’s Premier Soccer League in July.

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“I felt my lungs breaking more than anything and I was like, ‘I can do this,'” Long recalls. “My body felt great and the fact that my lungs were struggling first was a good sign. I felt I could stop putting so much pressure on myself for this try.

Not only was Long a part of the squad, but she was named co-captain.

In September, the Philippine team traveled to Uzbekistan and beat Nepal and Hong Kong, both 2-1, in the qualifying round. The Philippines won Group F to advance to the 12-team final tournament with a 2022 Women’s World Cup berth at stake.

“But the second round is where you see teams like Japan, China, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand – these are the ones that have already qualified and didn’t have to play in the first round.” , Long said. “If we get in the top five, we’ll go to the World Cup.

“The last time we missed it in the game against Thailand. We lost to Thailand and they had to go to the World Cup for us, but it was OK because the US beat Thailand 13-0 and I’m okay with that because it m ‘would have hurt the soul.

Hali Long (16) jumps into a scrum during a football game in Arkansas-Little Rock.  Long now resides in Springfield and plays for the Philippine National Women's Football Team.

Traveling for football

Long visited the Philippines once before her international football career, when she was 13. Seven years later, she returned with the national team. Raised by a Filipino mother, she was not surprised by any of the customs or cultures of this country. But she was a little taken aback by the national team’s accommodation standards.

“When you hear ‘national team’ it sounds so glorified, and I guess my expectations are a little too high,” Long said. “When I went there I was not shocked by the culture of the country itself, I was shocked by the women’s team. I think I glorified it too much in my head. It was a big wake-up call about the lack of resources and funding we had. ”

Long said that sports in the Philippines are made up of three, mainly: “There are the three B’s: boxing, basketball and beauty pageants,” she said.

But she said she was grateful for the opportunities international football has given her. She has visited over 20 countries because of it. She moved to Manila in the Philippines for a while, and she went through the process of obtaining her dual citizenship with the Philippines.

All of this experience made Long feel more strongly connected to this aspect of his heritage.

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“It’s kind of come full circle. I have dual citizenship and that was kind of my physical hallmark of “I’m Filipino,” Long said. “It’s not that I don’t claim my father’s side – the half-Caucasian that I am – but it’s the way I was raised, a much bigger Filipino influence. I am really proud to be Filipino.

Long has 11 goals in international competition, including three in a victory over Tajikistan in 2017. Long, a center-back, said she was only allowed to attack the goal with corner kicks and throws. free kicks due to her height of 5ft 7in, which she has declared to be one of the tallest players on the pitch.

Future thoughts

Long doesn’t know how long she will be playing the sport, but she does know she would like to continue into her 30s. Each year spent pursuing her football career is another year she delays the inevitable, she said. And that’s fine with it.

“I don’t know my life without football, without football,” Long said. “I’ve been playing it since I was little, it got me going to college, then I started playing (internationally) in college, so I had a good overlap of play so after college, instead of going to college, I went there to continue playing.

“In my mind, I was just going to take a year off and then go to college, but I was in total denial of what I was going to do the rest of my life because I was going to avoid adulthood. as long as I can. ”

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Long graduated from Arkansas-Little Rock with a health science degree. Her initial career goal was physiotherapy (“I’ve had enough and my mom is a physiotherapist”), but she isn’t sure, although she adds, “School is still in my head.

But that remains on the back burner.

“I think that’s the addicting part,” Long said. “The stamps (in the passport) are stamps, but I can do it in multiple places with the people I’m closest to and closest to in all of those places.

“It would be cool to see me play in my thirties. You see people in the United States doing it, and I think it’s with the right nutrition, training, and dedication. I need to learn on my own and adapt my body as I get older.

Contact Ryan Mahan: 857-246-9756, [email protected],