Photos by Kevin Prudon
The University of the Philippines Men’s Football Team cinched the championship of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 by beating the University of Santo Tomas, 1-0, during the finals held at the Rizal Memorial on May 3, 2018.
The loan goal was made by graduating student Julian Mariano “Ian” Clarino at the 21st minute. Ian, who is also the UPMFT’s team captain, was eventually named the season’s Most Valuable Player and Best Defender.
The finals was a grueling one, with the Growling Tigers not letting up their defense and trying to score a goal until the final five minutes of added time. In the end, the single point made by Ian was all it took for UP win.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kay God, kay Rogie, at sa UP community,” Ian said after the match. Rogie is Rogie Maglinas, Ian’s teammate who succumbed to cancer in 2016, the last year that the UPMFT held the championship. Ian declared that the fervor that the team had in 2016 is unchanged and that Rogie still inspires them. “Wala namang difference sa ginawa namin n’ung Season 78 sa ginawa namin ngayon… Lalaban pa rin kami para kay Rogie.”
That Fighting Maroons was unbeaten throughout the season is another special feat of the team. Pressed to explain how this was achieved this, UPMFT Head Coach Andres “Anto” Gonzales simply attributed it to the boys’ zeal. “I think that the players are so passionate for the school… UP has done so much (for them). Winning is their way to give back.”
Coach Anto, who is currently pursuing his Asian Football Confederation (AFC) “A” Coaching Certificate, also mentioned that his teachers in the said course, namely, Philippine Football Federation Technical Director Aris Caslib and Davao Aguilas Head Coach Marlon Maro, have imparted helpful tips. “They have been good mentors, especially Coach Aris because he was my coach at FC Meralco Manila. From Coach Aris, I learned how to manage players.”
Coach Anto’s astute style combined with the players’ cooperation may just be the UPMFT’s winning formula. “It’s easy coaching these boys,” said Coach Anto. “Sobrang bait (nila). They really deserve the success. Winning is just a bonus.”