For many, football is a pastime. A 90-minute moment-to-moment experience that starts and stops at the beck and call of a whistle. A wrinkle in time when people, whether long-time friends or total strangers, come together to be wilfully captivated by something beautiful. But for some, football is far from a mere diversion from the reality of life. For them, football is a way of life.
Football—the training, the discipline, the time and effort (both physical and emotional)—may seem overwhelming, but to a footballer, everything gracefully comes together to create a particular mindset that is relevant not only on the field but off it as well.
Enter, game changer
Determined to “create a culture that would teach players to value the process and not just the results”, former DLSU football players Avery del Rosario and Candice Grey-del Rosario brought what they consider to be their “first child” into the world back in 2003. Creating a football program designed to build well-rounded players, Futbol Funatics (FF) has since been educating one generation of footballers after another—emphasizing discipline, balance, and character.
Having played football from grade school up until college, Avery and Candice are no strangers to the impact that the “football mindset” has on life beyond the field. Candice, FF’s Program Director, draws from her own experience as an athlete, attributing much of the success of her work life after college to the values she learned on the football field. The values of discipline, balance, and teamwork that developed in her as an athlete formed who she was outside her field. “[This football mindset] has completely shaped the person I have become,” she affirms.
With character-building being a main emphasis, FF makes it a point to teach its players to appreciate the process and value the journey all football players undergo, deviating from the “winning at all costs” attitude so prevalent in the sport. “If you are merely driven and motivated by results, you’ll crumble each time you lose. But if you understand the value of the process and take the lesson from every single experience, then you never really ‘lose’, and you come back stronger and smarter each time,” Candice says.
Avery, FF’s Technical Director, also recognizes how football played a major role in his character development. “One important aspect I learned in playing football is the constant search for solutions to make things work,” he emphasizes. “Outside the playing field, life throws you many curve balls, and though sometimes we are not prepared, we find ways to come up with solutions.” The resourcefulness footballers develop on the field comes in handy in life outside.
Though the fundamentals of this mindset prove to be worth learning, it would be short lived were it not passed on. For Avery, passing on FF’s values of character development through football is important. This butterfly effect beginning with just one player and spreading to countless others is a phenomenon quite unique to FF. Such is the case with one of the club’s first students.
Passing the ball
Nathan “Nate” Alcantara (IV, BS-MGT) is no stranger to football. Having grown up immersed in the FF culture and having been surrounded by the values and attitudes unique to the FF mindset, he has come to know the sport he loves as a lifestyle.
“I remember [it] like it was yesterday,” he says about the first day he played football. It was at his football home that he knew the sport was for him. “I knew [then] that I belong to the game.”
Fast-forward to more than 10 years later. Recently, during the De La Salle men’s football team play, someone in the bleachers began describing how Nate, who is co-captain, plays football. “Heart” was a prominent word used. Having been mentored by coaches Candice and Avery from an early age, it’s safe to say that each time he steps on the field as a player for La Salle, he carries not only DLSU’s banner and the Alcantara name, but also that of Futbol Funatics.
Though the FF “original” now finds himself playing University football, the same mindset he developed in FF remains intact. From the value of hardwork to the essence of family and brotherhood, Nate carries the FF fundamentals with him to this day. “They have taught me to be mature. Football has taught me important values that I can apply in my life outside of football,” he says confidently.
The game that keeps on giving
Just like how Candice and Avery found themselves unable to deny their longing to give back to the game that raised them, Nate finds himself also wanting to pass on his passion for the game to the next generation of aspiring footballers. “They gave me the inspiration to become the player I am today,” he proclaims, which is why when presented with the opportunity to continue being a part of FF as a coach, he was honored. “I didn’t hesitate to say ‘Yes!’ because it’s my way of giving back to the club. I [want to] share everything that I’ve learned throughout the special years I’ve been with FF.”
As the culture of football is passed on from one generation of players to the next, so is the mentality unique to it. And as Nate points out, the most beautiful thing about the sport is that “Football never stops”. The game goes on even after the final whistle, because of what the players take with them off the field.
The fundamentals of the footballer mindset is, in essence, what keeps the beautiful game alive and kicking.