A career in football is fleeting. Usually a top player fortunate enough to experience considerable longevity in terms of playing at the highest level lasts 15 years tops, but usually much less than that.
During the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Final which Ateneo narrowly won against main rivals La Salle in an epic encounter one player saved the Blue Eagles from facing a bitter end to their campaign by scoring the late equalizer. That player is none other than their talisman and top-striker Jarvey Gayoso.
As Ateneo clinched the title after extra-time with a 2-1 scoreline, Gayoso emerged as the season MVP with 12 goals under his belt, cementing his name in the process as a legend for his school through his massive contributions to help achieve a two-trophy haul in the four seasons that he has donned the blue-and-white.
Four seasons. Four years. That’s how long he’s been playing in the UAAP. Now at 22 years old, the prolific forward-winger still has an option to suit up for another year and maximize his playing eligibility for Ateneo.
But the manner that this season ended, a resounding success in a head-fought final against their fiercest competitors, could be the icing on the cake and a sign that he might go pro.
Ateneo head coach Jaypee Merida provided a hint that the departure of his most lethal talent is a possibility as mentioned in a post-match interview that he is already looking for someone who will step in place of Jarvey come the next season.
But, Jarvey himself was mum on the matter, mentioning that he is first celebrating the achievement rather than thinking what’s next when it comes to playing in the UAAP for another season or not.
Personally, this writer would like to see him take his talents to the next level. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns to the UAAP for another year. The reason? He is setting himself up for life off the pitch.
MORE TO LIFE THAN FOOTBALL
Jarvey Gayoso, if he is really intent of being a pro at the earliest possible time could have hung up his boots after winning the UAAP championship in his sophomore year. But the fact that he added two more years, the usual duration of a full college course tenure, means he is intent in focusing on school first.
In the Philippine setting, aside from earning a diploma, him being in a well-known school in the country gives him an opportunity not just to learn, but to create a platform that would help him succeed in a different career path if ever football doesn’t work out. Whether it be in the corporate world, or in business whatever it may be, he will have a fallback.
Jarvey’s lengthy football career in the college level could be taken into contrast to former University of the Philippines defender Marco Casambre who went pro early, featured as a starter for the senior national team days shy of his 18th birthday, and is now plying his trade with Thai League 1 club Chainat Hornbill.
But in comparison to Marco, whose role lies in the backline, the now Ateneo legend, being an attacking player (and being good at it) as a winger/forward, is bound to get more attention from general football fans be expectant for his decision to take his talents to a much higher level.
Jarvey Gayoso’s choice to spend at least four years playing for his school might not be a popular one for fans, but it is the right move in the long run as it shows that there are more important things in life than football. Add to that the fact that he has now become a hero and a legend for his university by being its savior after being just minutes away from their UAAP Season 81 falling into tatters.
THE BEST HOMEGROWN TALENT?
Jarvey Gayoso could be the next generational homegrown talent in Philippine Football. Despite his still raw abilities as an amateur, he has shown natural instincts in front of goal that can help him become a successful footballer in the domestic top-flight (at the very least).
His exploits with the junior national team by being one of the small rays of hope in generally lackluster campaigns by finding the back of the net, and his breakthrough performance – with a spectacular header to boot – for a hastily formed national squad that reached the Bangabandhu Cup 2018 semifinals in Bangladesh, are a glimpse of what he can offer at the most competitive level of the sport where he can still improve much more as a player.
His quality was again displayed during the recently concluded final against La Salle, as Ateneo were on the brink of losing against their opponents within 90 minutes of regulation plus injury time. Jarvey Gayoso was, for the most part, kept at bay by the La Sallians’ defense. It was almost a frustrating final for the winger until he was able to bury the opportunity given to him in added time to give his team a lifeline en-route to winning the tie after extra time.
From a purely footballing standpoint, ideally, Jarvey should have gone pro after helping Ateneo win UAAP Season 79 in his second year. But making the leap to the pros as a player who plays in a highly competitive role – a winger/forward – there are just too many variables that need to be considered.
Variables such as the risk of injuries, wrong decisions – wrong club, wrong management, not being the right fit in a system – all these compounded by the reality when it comes to local football such as the uncertainty when it comes to the domestic professional league, Jarvey Gayoso’s decision to delay going into the pros all the more makes it a right one.
WAITING FOR “JAVIER” TO ARRIVE
In as much as I (as a football fan) would like Jarvey to don a professional club kit, step into the pitch, and test his mettle at a much higher level of competition, this UAAP off-season is bound to be a waiting game up until the next Philippine transfer window.
Jarvey’s situation in a way, shows the state of Philippine Football where discovering and nurturing talent is still behind compared to other footballing nations. In other countries where football is a major sport, his natural talent could likely merit him (at a much earlier age) to be scouted and developed by a football academy for a pathway to a career at the senior pro level.
Whatever choice the Ateneo football star takes regarding his career has to be respected. But when he finally decides commit fully as a professional, at 22- or 23-years-old, he needs to catch up. Whether he’ll still be able to reach and maximize his full potential by then or be a case of “What if?” is a different story.
It has been a long-time coming, but when the moment that the Blue Eagles’ footballing legend announces his arrival in club football, then it’s time for Jarvey to be Javier (a proper footballer name), and hopefully feature for the senior Azkals, and be the next to follow the footsteps of one of the Philippines’ most recent homegrown football stars, Chieffy Caligdong.