Things did not come easy. I really had to work for it.
When you’re the prettiest girl in the room, no one expects much from you really. Shut up and look pretty, sweetheart. Petite and fair Amanda Fernandez may be easy on the eyes but she’s not going to shut up and she’s not going to sit still and she’s not going to meet your expectations. She’s going to shatter them. Then, because she’s a football player, she just might challenge you to kick a ball so she can kick your outdated expectations of what a girl should be like.
“I want people to view me as someone who’s passionate about sports and the benefits that come with playing sports,” Amanda says. “I want people to view me as someone who works really hard to achieve living the passion and living the dream. Life for me didn’t…” she pauses before she insists, “Things did not come easy. I really had to work for it.”
And work she did, but not without having fun!
As a woman who built her life on and around playing sports, our April Calyxta Girl is the embodiment of the 21st century woman. At our weekend shoot at Fat Wave Surf Resort in San Juan, La Union, Amanda showed us just how she has it all. She’s not yet 30 but her CV sounds like it already needs a lifetime achievement award. Growing up, she was a tomboy, participating and excelling in sports on land, air and water: golf, tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, wakeboarding, snowboarding, field hockey, scuba diving, skydiving, and more. Oh, and let’s not forget her one true love, football.
If you’re a sports aficionado, you’d recognize Amanda as the host of TV shows GAMEPLAN and Solar Sports. She is a dynamic events host. She’s a commercial model, appearing in the ads of Globe, San Miguel Light, and Myra. She’s the founder and manager of the semi-professional all-women football team, Sikat (pronounced as SEE-kat, the Filipino word for shine). And she’s the strong-willed boss who built and runs SPARTA, a sports and recreation facility that boasts of an indoor football field.
Like we said, Amanda’s achieved a lot for a woman in her 20s, and she’s just getting started. For one thing, she dreams of starring in an action film. Wait. This boss/athlete/model/host also wants to be an actress?
That’s what’s so fascinating about Amanda! She never fails to surprise you because she can never be contained in a box. We can’t find enough boxes for her anyway. She agrees: “There’s this one time when an agency approached to manage my career, but they were asking me to narrow down the three things that will best describe myself. And I couldn’t!”
I take time to diversify my life
Well, let’s try to describe her. Amanda Fernandez is tough but feminine. Funny but dead serious. Cute but a little scary. She’s hardworking and driven and she also wakes up at 10 A.M. None of that “successful people wake up at dawn” mantra for her (although, ever the professional, she did get up at dawn for our shoot—twice!). Her grip is so strong, her handshakes hurt but her bright nail polish reminds you she’s girly. She likes showing off her body in a bikini and that’s because it’s packed with muscles. She loves getting dolled up as much as she loves getting down and dirty on the field.
“I do modeling on the side. It’s definitely a way for me to help sustain my lifestyle,” she reveals as she sits on the makeup chair in her favorite outfit: tank top and gym shorts. “I also enjoy being behind the camera because I took film in high school, and I really have fun in trying the different camera angles. I like being in front of the camera. I take time to diversify my life by doing commercials once in a while when given the opportunity.” Where she finds the time, we do not know but it seems to us that if something is fun, sparks her curiosity, and will earn her money, Amanda will find time for it.
SAVED BY THE BALL
There is a playfulness about Amanda that’s grounded by a seriousness that seems too grave for someone her age. Well, she’s an athlete, after all. She’ll play, she’ll have fun, but there’s always a goal, and she will always set her sights on it. Her determination to achieve whatever she sets her mind to is borne out of a difficult childhood made better when she started playing with a football.
Amanda, or Mandy to her family and friends, was a typical teenager looking for affirmation, a middle child trying to fit in. “I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t have the best childhood,” Amanda says. “I had more challenges growing up than an ordinary kid would have.”
One day, 13-year-old Mandy found herself watching her older sister and younger brother playing football and she thought she’d give it a try. She joined her brother’s team at the International School Manila, then she signed up at the Makati Football School. After winning medals and recognition, Amanda made her way to the national football team.
Amanda looks back at her early years with no bitterness. She says, “Football helped me get through those challenges with more resilience, with more courage. It was a very healthy distraction for me. So I kept on doing this sport that makes me happy and confident.”
As I grew up, I realized that playing football helped me make better decisions in life.
She is grateful her belief in herself began in solid achievements in football, not from the opinions of others. “I think building self-confidence is the most important outtake that I took from playing football. Like, in my teens, where will I get it, right? I found myself believing in myself because of football. And as I grew up, I realized that playing the sport helped me make better decisions in life.”
Amanda didn’t forget the impact of football had on her and she decided that other young people needed sports to help them arrive at the same conclusion. Despite being away in the U.S. to get her college degree, her desire to inspire and influence the Filipino youth through football ignited an idea and a passion to return home. At that time, the country was passionately in love with the Azkals, the Philippine National Football Team. Amanda knew it was the right time to create awareness that women can play the sport, too.
Named after the rising sun, Sikat Football Club was Amanda’s first baby. “In the beginning, I would need to humble myself and ask for sponsorships for Sikat. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get the support from my family who thought that it was a waste of time. So I would have to defend it and work so hard to get people to support it,” she says of the pains of birthing an all-women team under the Philippine Football Federation Women’s League in a male-dominated sport.
The support did eventually come in and Amanda is proud of her girls. “If I wasn’t sincere, if I wasn’t passionate, then the team won’t last for five years, the team won’t be the most influential women’s club in the country. It wouldn’t have attracted some of the best women who played in the national team, if I was just full of it,” she concludes.
Not only does Amanda manage the team, she also plays as either its striker or midfield. Sikat is on hiatus at the moment, but Amanda’s keen that one day, like its namesake, it will rise and shine again.
PLAYING FOR A LIVING
Amanda’s love for playing sports, her zeal for football, her challenging pursuit to create awareness about football, and her mission to promote the holistic benefits that come from playing different types of sports led her to one of the most monumental things she’s done in her 29 years—she put up a business that merged all her passions and purpose under one roof.
But first she had to raise the capital and then she had to convince her family, especially her father, the chairman of the board of FMF Development Corporation, and its stockholders that play is a very good business idea. One can only imagine the pre-meeting thoughts of that group—“What will a young girl, the boss’s daughter to be exact, who’s pretty and cute, say to convince us suits to cough up the money to fund her project?”
Amanda may be all of the above but she also has the killer instinct and the ruthless determination of an athlete. She has the business sense gained from being the manager of a football team. Plus, she has the on-your-toes sharpness and charm from her years as a TV host. She was in her element, or as they say, Amanda had the homecourt advantage.
She won the the investment required to put up and run the country’s first and only FIFA 1-star indoor football field with multi-sport facility: SPARTA (Sports and Recreational Training Area), and in 2015, it opened to rave reviews. SPARTA is now a complete sports and wellness lifestyle compound that also houses a fitness center, a dance studio, a bike shop, and offers fitness classes from calisthenics to martial arts. And they have free parking!
More than getting her goal of sports entrepreneurship, Amanda reveals that SPARTA paved the way to getting her father’s approval. She said, “Even if there was no pat on the back, no compliment or hugs, I know that he cares. After my presentation to the board, he went up to me and said in a nutshell, ‘Whenever you are going to be making decisions that concern the business, you can ask me first.’ Indirectly, he volunteered to be my consultant, and that to me already meant a lot.”
Text by: FRANCES SALES & SHERRY TENORIO
Photography: DIX PEREZ
Videography: TWO FOLD MEDIA
Makeup: JEFFREY CABRAL
Hair: RON ROS
Special Thanks to: FATWAVE SURF RESORT LA UNION & PINK SUGAR MAKEUP
Meet The Crew: Jeffrey Cabral
Jeffrey Cabral is a Manila-based makeup artist who aims to ‘create stories one face at a time’. This math wiz graduated with a degree in Film and Audio-Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman – but, he found his true calling in exploring the art of makeup. After taking a year off to attend an intense training in beauty makeup, hairstyling, airbrush makeup, character makeup, special effects and prosthetics makeup at the Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles, California, the former Production Designer for TV commercials and TV shows sent an email blast to industry contacts and friends that he’s ready for work. Since then, he has been a part of several projects produced in various locations for Cambodian, French, Chinese, Japanese and Australian film outfits. When he’s not in the airplane to attend film shoots, he rests over a cup of coffee (or a glass of rosé) and tries to get his long sleep – otherwise, the moment he gets to sleep, he’ll sleepwalk and slap the first person he’ll reach.
Pet Peeves: In all things, I don’t like being late. Workwise, I don’t like messy and cluttered working stations and double dipping!
Skin: Shiny/Oily but I use water-based foundation to keep my face flawless at all times
Can’t live without: My principles! And, makeup! I can’t live without makeup! I LOVE my job and everything related with it. I don’t know what will happen if it’s taken away from me.
Favorite Calyxta find: Pink Sugar’s Sugartint Lip & Cheek Tint in Honey Bunny
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