After bagging the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Rookie of the Year award, star forward Shanden Vergara has decided to take his talents to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
“Now, [a] new chapter has opened. And while the Philippines is my home, and La Salle has paved the way, I am confident that I am going in the right direction—the direction of my dreams. Above all, I am very grateful to God for giving me this gift and for having parents [who] continuously support me in achieving my dreams. This move wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t [for] them. For me, they are the champions of my life,” a grateful Vergara shared his sentiments with The LaSallian.
Pursuing a childhood dream
Since he was a kid, Vergara’s dream of playing on the international stage has always been the constant driving force in his young career. He even received words of encouragement from Chris Thomas, founder of the Football for Humanity Foundation, who was part of the recruitment team who brought Vergara to the States. Thomas told Vergara that he had the talent and skills to compete in an international arena. He took these words to heart and still remembers them to this day.
Vergara said that he has already fulfilled one of his childhood dreams, and that was to play under the Lasallian banner. “It’s always an honor playing for the Green-and-White because it [was] my childhood dream, and I had always given my best for the school,” Vergara shared, adding that he always strived to give his 100 percent for the University, which rewarded him with this significant next step.
Grassroots development and constant training are key to developing lifelong talent. At the age of six, the prized rookie was guided by his father who, at the time, established the Los Amigos Futbol Club in hopes of exposing him and his siblings to the football experience. On top of that, he traveled to different places around Visayas to bolster his football repertoire.
It did not stop there. His footballing career also took stops in various clubs and schools that took interest in him. “I was a member of the Little Azkals back in 2012 along with my brother where I got the chance to be part of the training camp in Palermo, Italy and the Asian Football Confederation U14 in Malaysia under coach Bing Colina, Eleazar Toledo, Noel Marcaida, and Aye Fabroada. I studied and played for Colegio de Sto. Tomas for school competitions in my junior high school years. I also played several clubs including Subangdaku FC under Coach Eleazar Toledo and Leylam FC under Coach Bing Colina based in Cebu, Pasargad FC (Manila), I, PAGASA (Iloilo), and Green Barons (Laguna). I played for Kaya FC Elite and [the] Green Archers United when I was studying in De La Salle Zobel,” he enumerated.
With all that up his sleeve, the levelheaded rookie does not hesitate to realize what he has to offer. “All that I can say is that I just have to work on my weaknesses and be consistent [with] my strengths”, he shared.
Memories last a lifetime
Although Vergara’s stint with the Green-and-White was cut short, his time with the team will never be forgotten. The rookie felt like he needed to step out of his comfort zone, so he did the next best thing and decided to bring his talents to the United States—where he will be playing college football in hopes of making it into the Major League Soccer.
Even with the move abroad looming ahead, that did not stop Vergara from reminiscing on the previous season. The rookie made it through with all the experiences in hand and will continue to turn to his faith no matter what happens. “It [was] knowing that God is there to help me when things don’t go the right way, especially [because] it was an up and down season for us. We gave everything just to reach the finals, which a lot of people didn’t expect,” he said.
The team made it to the end, besting everyone’s expectations. One memorable play that the fans will remember is their semifinal matchup against the UP Fighting Maroons where Vergara scored the goal that led them to the finals. For Vergara, that specific play will forever be etched as the highlight of his Lasallian career.
Moving on to the next step of his career, Vergara will bring to the United States lessons and traits learned in La Salle and his hometown in San Carlos. “I will always live the Lasallian way by being humble, by striving for excellence, and by being God-centered,” he concluded.