If there is one person who has seen it all in the UAAP, from those sweet championships and painful defeats, then it has to be long-time DLSU Football mentor Hans-Peter Smit.
The incoming UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament will be no different for Smit as he and the rest of the DLSU Men’s Football Team seek to bring home the championship, which has eluded the school since 1998.
Last season was about breaking new ground with a young team that contained as much as 13 rookies, which ended up with a dream run to the finals. While the season ended painfully in a loss to Ateneo for all the marbles, the players have already turned a new leaf from that chapter.
“The players are in good spirits. (There is) no need for them to feel any pressure about last year because that will only put undue pressure,” quipped Smit.
To prepare for the upcoming campaign, the team has joined preseason tournaments like the Ang Liga to shape up and become match fit. It also welcomed the addition of newcomers who are expected to be ready when they step on the pitch.
“(The) rookies are coping fairly well. There’ll be some that will be contributing a great deal. They will not be plugging any holes instead they will be adding more depth to the team,” explained Smit.
Notable players from last season who are not part of the team this season include last season’s Rookie of the Year awardee Shanden Vergara, forward Xavi Zubiri and goalkeeper Gab Villacin. While these losses are big, Smit prefers to focus on the materials he has in his disposal.
“Like I always say, anybody in the team can and will contribute. There is no one player who will cover for anyone who has left the team,” he shared.
La Salle’s campaign in Season 82 commences on March 5, 2020, 1:30 PM against the FEU Tamaraws. It will be another long season ahead for Smit and the whole team and a good start to it is important if they want to hit the ground running towards redemption.
“My expectations are to be in the finals and redeem last year’s disappointment. The team just needs to be more confident in their abilities and capabilities and never stop supporting each other and continue with our battle cry of ‘Start Strong and Finish Stronger’,” concluded Smit.