Sibling football players are a common sight here in the Philippines. Despite basketball being the most popular sport in the country, some families end up bringing their children to grass pitches instead of the hard courts. In fact, the Philippines’ very own national football team has several brother pairs in its talent pool, with the Younghusbands being the most notable.
Within the Lasallian community, the DLSU Men’s Football Team also has their own sibling tandem to boot – Gio and Gelo Diamante. Hailing from Davao City, the brothers have been vital cogs in the team’s success over the past few years. Gio is currently the Booters’ captain, while Gelo contributes as one of the team’s leading goal scorers.
However, football was not the first sport these brothers fell in love with. Back when they were youngsters, the Diamante brothers tried to test their agility in tennis and their power in aikido. Fortunately for DLSU, their interest in those activities did not last long, being too young at that time. Swimming became their next venture, but this time with better results. The siblings won several contests and medals but also grew tired of the water sport.
It was only when one of Gio’s friends invited him to play at a local boy’s club when their football journey began.
“The person that invited me to play football was my best friend. We were in the Boy’s Club [at] Opus Dei Club for Young Kids. He pushed us to play football. He said, “Hey guys, join!” I tried it, I liked it, and then I wanted my brothers to join as well. It changed our life. If we didn’t play football, I don’t know where we’d be today,” says the elder Gio, who is currently taking a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communications.
“Actually, naunang maglaro ang kuya namin. Tatlo kaming lalaki. Si Gio eldest namin,” mentions Gelo, a third year Biology major. “He invited me and our younger brother to play and it all started there,” he recounts.
Despite playing together for a long time, the brothers have different playing styles on the field. The older brother struts his wares in the midfield while the younger one plies his craft near the opponent’s goal. The way each one plays compliments one another, resulting in better in-game action for the squad. Whenever the siblings are both seeing action at the same time, one would often know how the other moves, where the other wants the ball, and how the other wants the ball.
“Sa tingin ko, my brother Gio has more strength than [I do]. I think that’s because [of his position that] he needs the strength [as] center midfield—that’s where the battle really happens,” says Gelo when asked to compare his playing style with that of his brother. “I have more of the speed because my job is really to chase down the ball and score the goals,” he quips.
The Diamantes’ on-field chemistry has had a positive effect not only on their play but also on the team. The familiarity between the brothers has rubbed off on their teammates, many of which they consider as family. They even considered coach Hans Smith as their father with a love-hate relationship. Knowing that he could be tough at times, Gio and Gelo, together with the rest of the team, understand it as a motivation to push them to be better.
“Magkakapatid na rin kami ng ibang teammates namin, so nagkakaintindihan. Siguro napapasa namin sa kanila ang aming understanding and connection. It really helps the team,” remarks the Green Booters captain.
Outside the field, the Diamante siblings are very close to one another. They would avoid fights as much as possible leading them to a better understanding and relationship. “Maybe it’s the way we were raised as children. They made sure na nagkakasundo kami parati,” mentions Gio.
Having siblings to play for a team is a rare occasion, but the energy that the Diamante Brothers are sharing to the squad is much harder to find. As of press time, the Green Booters remain in good contention in the ongoing UAAP football season. As Gio and Gelo continue to inspire the team with how they play, the squad will definitely have a chance to grab the UAAP championship.