Sun 1 October 2023

FEU player carries sidelined Atenean rival at UAAP Boys’ Football opener

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A kind gesture was made at the UAAP High School Boys’ Football match between Far Eastern University and Ateneo de Manila held at the University of the Philippines Diliman Football Pitch on January 22, 2023.

On the said date—which marked the return of UAAP football since 2020 and which was also the start of the Lunar New Year—a player of Ateneo High School was sidelined.

“It was during the second half and FEU was up by four goals,” related Coach Ronald “Oni” Patulin of Laos FC who was among those who watched the game at UP. “Ateneo mounted a counter-attack but was held back by FEU defenders. When the Ateneo player went down because of cramps and had to be substituted, he couldn’t get up. So the player from FEU offered to carry him to the Ateneo side.”

Coach Oni said the incident happened quietly, it could have been overlooked. But the spectators noticed and applauded the kind deed.


Two football clubs

The boy who deserves the praise is Grade 11 student Bryan Villanueva, defender of the FEU Baby Tamaraws, and the opponent he carried is Javi Tan.

Bryan played for the squad of Tuloy sa Don Bosco, a village for marginalized youth run by Salesian priest Fr. Rocky Evangelista, before he was recruited by FEU.

But Bryan actually learned to play football at a young age, through his coaches like Mark Anthony Jancilan, John Robert Gaerlan, and Rafael Misa at Football Club Bilibib, an outreach program of Ateneo de Manila Batches Grade School ’67, High School ’71 and College ’75-’76. “He was at practice everyday for six years. He did a marvelous job,” Coach Rafael Misa said of Bryan. 

Former Philippine Women’s National Team Coach Joel Villarino, who also mentored the Tuloy sa Don Bosco team, remembers Bryan as a very skilled but short-tempered player. “Pero dahil siguro sa turo at upbringing sa Tuloy sa Don Bosco kaya niya nagawang tulungan iyong kalaban niya,” said Coach JoelThe


“Sports reveal character”

The media team of UAAP captured Bryan’s kind act and his was one of the post-match photos circulated to media contacts. 

The Facebook page of the NCAA-UAAP Memes spotted it on the Fullcourtfresh.com FB page and created a poster with the headline “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” In the caption, the 254k-follower strong Facebook page described the touching scene as “the highlight of the January 22 UAAP boys’ football action. This type of sportsmanship is what makes everyone around you proud. If you know this man, tag him and tell him to continue leading by example.”

Bryan, in fact, contributed one of the five goals that FEU made at that match; the Baby Tamaraws eventually defeated the Blue Eagles, 5-0.


Not just skills

Undeniably, the bigger victory was Bryan’s good deed. If actions do speak louder than words, Bryan’s assistance to his rival demonstrated his maturity and kind heart.

We sent an email to Javi’s parents to ask for their reaction, and the reply of Mr. Huey Tan, Javi’s father, was grateful and heartfelt. He said, “(My wife) Trixie and I would like to express our thanks to Bryan for helping Javi off the football pitch during the game. Javi told us that he recognized Bryan from a previous friendly between his football club and Tuloy sa Don Bosco.”

Mr. Tan reiterated, “Bryan’s gesture of sportsmanship serves as a reminder that we can be both competitive and respectful with a member of the opposing team. FEU is fortunate to have an athlete like Bryan in terms of skills and character.”

Coach Joel believes Bryan has great potential. He said, “Puwede siya sa national team. Saka matangkad na bata.”


Proud moment

Bryan posted the photo on his Facebook account with Fr. Rocky’s quote “Be good. Do good” as caption — a tribute to what he’s learned from his days at Tuloy sa Don Bosco. In an online chat with Fullcourtfresh.com, Bryan said what he did wasn’t a big deal. “Wala po ‘yun. Isa sa mga natutunan ko lang din po sa Don Bosco ang pagiging matulungin.”

According to Bryan, here’s what happened: “Air ball po kasi, tapos sabay po kami tumalon para mag- heading po,” he says of his opponent. “Ball fight po sa taas. Then, pagbagsak namin nag-cramps po siya… Then, tinulugan ko po…. Suddenly hindi na po niya talaga kaya maglaro at maglakad. Kaya binuhat ko na lang po siya para hindi mahirapan.”

In a separate post, Bryan shared a solo photo of him with arms outstretched, most likely taken after he scored a goal at the 45+4 minute mark. The boy captioned this one, “Someday I will make myself proud.”

No need to wait. That proud moment isn’t in the future, Bryan, it’s now.

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Postscript: As Bryan and the rest of the Baby Tamaraws compete for the championship of UAAP Season 85 Boys Football on March 2, 2023, he would like to say thanks to his inspiration. We are publishing Bryan’s message as is. Bryan would like to say, “Regards to my special friend, Ms. Psych. Take care always. God bless you.”

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