UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football: Welcome back, Steven Anotado

Santino Honasan on Feb 19, 2018 03:53 PM
UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football: Welcome back, Steven Anotado
“Alam ko sa sarili ko na babalik at babalik ako.” - Steven Anotado (9)

Steven Anotado had a big grin on his face as he and his teammates walked back to their bench after singing their alma mater song in front of the University of Santo Tomas school band present at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Anotado and the Growling Tigers had just handed defending champions Ateneo their second loss of the season, and it was the third-year striker that came up with the lone goal late in the second half to secure the victory.

It was Anotado’s first goal of the season. More importantly, it was his first goal after coming back from injury.

And it wasn’t like he was out for just a couple of months. He was sidelined for two seasons, so the happiness on the kid’s face after scoring his first UAAP goal after missing so much time was more than understandable.

““Sobrang saya ko ngayon kasi siyempre kasi first goal ko.”

It was a familiar sight for UST football fans, but something they hadn’t seen since UAAP Season 77.

Back when proven strikers like Jinggoy Valmayor, Eric Giganto, and Paolo Salenga were setting nets ablaze in the UAAP, Anotado, then a sophomore, was carving a name out for himself as one of the league’s promising young strikers.

Posting braces and hat tricks, Anotado was a bright spot in UST’s otherwise-forgettable Season 77 campaign.

While they finished sixth that year, the Thomasian faithful knew that they had a budding star in Anotado.

Then, a couple of torn ACLs on both knees kept Anotado sidelined for UAAP Season 78 and Season 79.

“Nag-pursige ako na makabalik galing dun sa dalawang ACL ko, yung dalawang paa ko para maka-recover ako.” Anotado told the media following his game-winning performance. “Nag-gym lang ako ng nag-gym tapos ginawa ko lahat para i-motivate yung sarili ko kahit down na down ako nung time na yun, kahit yung dalawang legs ko na-operahan.”

In the two seasons that Anotado sat and watched from the sidelines, the Growling Tigers managed to crack the Final Four, but have never gone past fourth place.

Seeing his teammates bounced in the semifinals in back-to-back seasons was hard for Steven, especially since there was only so much he could do off the pitch.

“Masakit sa akin na hindi ko matulungan yung teammates ko, na wala ako dun sa time na yun, nandoon lang ako sa bench o sa taas na nanonood.” Anotado shared. “Kaya sobrang sakit sa akin pag nakikita ko yung teammates ko na natatalo or pangit yung laro.”

Being sidelined for a few months is a devastating blow to any collegiate athlete, let alone having to sit out two full seasons.

At that point, thoughts of giving up begin to creep into the mind, and Anotado admits feeling the same. Instead of giving in however, the M’lang, North Cotabato native saw his injuries as challenges to overcome.

“Syempre dumating din yung time na nawalan ako ng gana, nawalan ako ng gana mag-laro ng football, pero napaisip ako kung para saan ba ‘tong challenge na ‘to, kasi iniisip ko na challenge lang ‘to para sa akin.”

It was his confidence in himself that kept him going.

“Alam ko sa sarili ko na babalik at babalik ako.”

And return he did.

Now finally back on the pitch for the Gold and Black, Anotado is slowly getting his legs back underneath him, and Sunday’s game-winner against the champs was just the beginning.

“Mino-motivate ko sarili ko na maka-goal pa ako para sa team ko, hindi lang naman para sa akin yun eh, hindi lang naman pang-sarili, para din sa team ko, kila coach, sa UST community.”

Four games into the season, Anotado is slowly being integrated back into the Tigers’ system. After coming off the bench in his last few outings, it won’t be long before he’s going the full 90-minutes again.

The 22-year old striker is confident that in time, he’ll be back in his old form, the devastating goal-scorer that he was two seasons ago. “Kaya, alam ko sa sarili ko na kaya ko pa, sa tulong ng teammates ko, gagawin ko lahat.”

“Motivation lang sa sarili.” Anotado added.

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