Every season in the UAAP, excitement grows when it comes to the neophytes who will experience their baptism of fire in the league. They may have been stars in high school but college ball is a whole different animal to deal with.
The DLSU Men’s Football Team is no different. As a squad that seeks to go one better in Season 82, new individuals are needed to freshen a lineup that narrowly missed out on a long overdue championship the previous year.
These players are defenders French Edward Talaroc and John Paul Josheb Bengay, goalkeeper James Edward Suarez Blanco and forward Ealhwine Jehoiakim Dalam.
Adjusting to Life as Part of the Green and White
Choosing what college to go to as a student-athlete in high school can be one of the most daunting decisions one can take in their lifetime. There so many things to consider such as academics, playing time and even the culture of the school.
One thing, though, that was apparent with the four rookies is that they themselves fulfilling a dream by being given the chance to wear that fabled La Salle shirt on the pitch.
“I feel happy because I was given a chance to play for my dream school. I feel also pressured in terms of the expectation of the coaches and teammates on how can we help this team for this season. Pressures because only four of us rookies out of 13 have been selected to be part of the roster. Excited because this is the first time that I’ll be playing in the college team” said Bengay.
Being new members of a team can always be intimidating at first. Aside from whatever traditions there are in the squad, such as rookies having their heads shaved, it is important for newbies and holdovers to build rapport with each other.
Dalam explained, “It went well actually because the seniors are being nice to us when it comes to training and studies (as well as) even outside the field. They are always reminding us of our responsibilities and duties as rookies and they are also good examples in leading the great team. Sometimes it is us rookies who’re making bad decisions that affect the team because sometimes we’re not organized but somehow our seniors are always there to help us.”
It is inevitable, though, for cliques to emerge within a group. In the end, some members are more comfortable with each other compared to others. However, that is one concern that is absent from the DLSU Men’s Football Team
“I feel great na lagi kaming buo as a team and di namin pinapabayaan ang isa’t-isa at enjoy lang,” shared Talaroc.
While they may have their specific talents to show on the pitch, the four rookies understand that they also have to make the most out of life outside of it. Life as a student-athlete is hard but it is a fulfilling endeavor.
“The major difference is La Salle is more focused on academics,” opined Blanco.
What They Are All About
Lasallians can expect that the four rookies are capable of having an instant impact for the team this coming Season 82. In fact, all of them are very eager to show the community what they are all about.
With how easy it is to watch international teams and athletes thanks to the internet, it should come as no surprise that international stars serve as inspiration for aspiring competitors around the world. “I’m a defender and I play like Sergio Ramos, a player that the team can rely on,” said Talaroc.
For Bengay, the other defender in the group, it is about remaining as no-frills but as effective as possible during a game. “My playing style is simple. I’m not too fast but every time I play I use my head instead of pressure. My position is left-back. I can contribute to the team in every practice and game. I will do my best to be a better player and to be a good teammate.”
Similar to Talaroc, Blanco takes inspiration from some of the best players in the world for his position. “I’m a goalkeeper and my playing style is like Ederson Moraes and Manuel Neuer. I can distribute the ball quickly and accurately and I’m more of a sweeper-keeper.”
While Talaroc, Bengay and Blanco are helping out in defence, Dalam is more focused on having an impact in the opposition’s half of the pitch. With the exit of Shanden Vergara and Xavi Zubiri, the rookie has much to live up to this year.
“My style is different but I am trying to connect to the team. I do a lot of dribbling, tikitaka, and passing but mostly engaging in a one-on-one situation. I’m playing attacking forward and I think I can bring a lot to the team since I have a lot of experience and lessons from my previous teams and I can contribute also scoring opportunities for my teammates,” said Dalam
Looking forward to what lies ahead
Their first shot at making their debut in the UAAP is against FEU. That game will be played on March 5, 2020, 1:30 PM at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
As players with illustrious CVs back in high school, expect them to have a positive influence in the team’s campaign throughout the rest of the season as they seek to bring home the crown in their first season in the Seniors Division.
“I can contribute by sharing my experiences and giving my 101 percent in each and every game to bring the DLSU Men’s Football Team in the final and to be the Season 82 champions,” said Talaroc.
Likewise, Blanco shared, “Ang mabibigay ko sa team ay ang pagpapakita kung sino talaga ako at sa pagbahagi ng mga experiences ko sa national team. Makakatulong ako sa paggamit ng playing style ko kasi meron tayong mga strikers tulad na kayang kumuha ng mga long balls ko. At naniniwala ako na kayang-kaya naming mag champion this season!”
For Dalam, it is all about hitting the ground running come kick-off. “I think I can help them to boost (the team’s) confidence and strength spiritually, emotionally and mentally by trusting myself in all of my actions during the game. I will also keep the Animo spirit so that we will play together as a team because chemistry in the game is very important towards the championship.”
Only a select few can wear the La Salle jersey in the UAAP. It may weigh heavy but that is because the school’s players have much to live up to. For these four rookies and the rest of the DLSU Men’s Football Team, the pressure is on to finally reclaim that holy grail.
“My expectation for this Season 82 is this season will be a good season for the team. I expect that we will do better than last year. I expect that this season we will get that championship and gold medals,” concluded Bengay.