NEXT BIG THING: Is Jarvey Gayoso bound for Philippine Football greatness?

Santino Honasan on Apr 10, 2018 04:27 PM
Is Jarvey Gayoso bound for Philippine Football greatness?
"From the very beginning, I've always dreamed about playing in the highest league and playing in the highest competition possible, for the Philippines, for the country. I will never stop visualizing it because it will make me want it more, so that’s the dream."

When the Philippine Azkals took on Tajikistan back in late-March, sitting in the stands was someone who was somewhat more than just a fan.

An interested observer, who was, possibly looking at what the future holds for him.

And when the Philippine National Team eventually made history by defeating their Tajik visitors, it simply fueled this fan’s desire to one day, be on the other side, looking up at the stands.

Ateneo football star Jarvey Gayoso was among the 4,600 fans in attendance at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium to see the Azkals take the biggest step in Philippine football history: qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. It will the the Philippines’ first time to make the prestigious Asian football tournament.

For years, the Asian Cup had been the dream. On March 27th, that dream became reality.

“I was able to witness everything that happened, except for one goal, I was basically there, and the vibe and the whole experience of making history, of being part of the [AFC Asian Cup] in UAE, it was breathtaking, it was chilling.” Jarvey said. “This is the biggest step since 2010 I believe, for Philippine football, and it was inspiring to see, I was very inspired, I was in awe of the players that were so deserving of this opportunity.”

For the reigning UAAP Men’s Football MVP, getting to see the Azkals go out and take care of business on the biggest match in Philippine football, it was exciting.

It motivated Jarvey to want to get to that level even more.

“It made me want it more. I gave purpose to why I’m doing this, It gave purpose to the hard work that I’ve been putting out in the field.”

“From the very beginning, I’ve always dreamed about playing in the highest league and playing in the highest competition possible, for the Philippines, for the country. I will never stop visualizing it because it will make me want it more, so that’s the dream. Hopefully one day, I’ll be able also to play for them, with them.” Jarvey added.

Jarvey has had some experience with the national team before, playing alongside the likes of Phil and James Younghusband in a series of friendlies in Taiwan.

But of course, friendlies and major tournaments are two different things.

In terms of representing the country, Jarvey wants more.

“I still believe that there’s more for me to give to the country and to the team.”

 

Pitch Phenom

Few athletes have had as much impact on the UAAP as Jarvey has had this early in his career.

In just two years, the 21-year old already has a pair of Best Striker awards, and with 15 goals in 12 matches so far this season, he’s on track for a third one.

“Jarvey’s a really talented player. Pag hindi mo siya pinag-aralan, mag-sscore talaga siya ng mag-sscore.” says Ateneo head coach Jaypee Merida. “Si Jarvey, iba talaga siya eh. Yung scoring talaga niya, for me, iniisip lagi namin ng mga coaches, parang in-born sa kanya yung scoring.”

Jarvey will be the first to admit that he is looking to score all the time, simply because that’s what he’s out there to do, but it isn’t all about making a name for himself or getting is name across the record books.

For Jarvey, scoring is a way of giving back to his team.

“Personally, it is one of my goals to live my UAAP career known as the best striker, but in the team, it is my role, it is one of my ways of contributing to the team and giving back to the hard work of the team, by doing my best with ball on top of the field, on top of the box,”

“I guess, from the many years that I’ve been playing, I’ve always just been determined to score, not just for my self but for the team also. It’s a good feeling to know that the hard work in training has paid off on the field, so it’s just really my way of giving back to the team.” he continued.

And while it’s an honor to be known as an elite scorer, ask any athlete and they’ll tell you that they’re in the game for an even bigger prize.

Not everyone can be scorers. Not everyone can be champions.

Jarvey belongs in an even smaller group that can say they’re both.

Aside from getting a second-consecutive Best Striker nod, Season 79 saw Jarvey lead the Blue Eagles to their first UAAP Men’s Football title since UAAP Season 75. Not to mention being named Season MVP.

Now, on his third year in the league, he’s looking at a third consecutive scoring title, and if everything goes Ateneo’s way, possibly even back-to-back championships and MVP honors.

Already a pretty impressive resumé for someone who’s just three years into the league.

And as collegiate sports continues to grow even more popular in the country, so do the athletes who have managed to capture the fans’ attention with their talent, much like Jarvey has done.

On social media, people have begun attaching the label of “phenom” to Jarvey, something that the likes of volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez, Marck Espejo, and basketball star Kiefer Ravena have all shared.

While it’s flattering for someone who plays a sport that doesn’t get as much exposure in the country as basketball or volleyball, Jarvey knows better than to let it get to his head.

“I don’t really think about it, I know there’s still a lot for me to achieve, and I think that’s the scary thing about being tagged as a phenom, one tends to be complacent or not as hungry anymore, but looking at the likes of Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez, who still strive, I image myself as one of them, who would never seek to just stay where they are, to always be hungry for more, and of course, I shouldn’t let it get into my head, and I just focus on my game.”

“If my hard work and training pays off on the field, it’s just a blessing to be known as one of them.” Jarvey added.

The 'Phenoms' that came before Gayoso were no doubt products of hard work, dedication, discipline, and commitment. What seperated them from the pack, however, was the ability to take their game to the next level. 

Ravena and Valdez, during their time in blue and white, raised their games on a regular basis, which ultimately brought them to superstar status in the UAAP.

Think Kiefer scorching supposed 'Ravena-stoppers' from beyond the arc, or Alyssa unloading points upon points upon points on opposing teams' defenses. 

For Gayoso, one such moment came earlier this season, fittingly enough against arch-rivals De La Salle. 

After a lackluster first half, the rival crowd decided to let the striker know just how they felt by chanting 'overrated'. 

Gayoso responded with two goals and a win that effectively silenced the Taft crowd that Thursday afternon.

At that moment, it was hard to deny that Gayoso elevated himself to another level. 

 

Front Row Seat

More than anyone, there’s probably one person that has gotten to see Jarvey Gayoso evolve into the player that he is now, and that’s Ateneo de Manila Men’s Football head coach Jaypee Merida.

Coach Jaypee has had the pleasure of coaching Jarvey, even before he was an MVP and a UAAP champion, having handled him on the juniors squad for three seasons.

Even back then, Coach Jaypee saw the potential that the kid had.

“Nakikita ko na talaga na mag-dodominate talaga, kaya niyang sumabay, for example during High School niya, na kaya niyang sumabay kahit sa mga fourth-year students.” Coach Jaypee shared. “Second-year pa lang siya, pwede na siya mag-start sa Juniors. Nakita ko na talaga na may potential ‘tong player na ‘to, tapos may future talaga sa football. Pwedeng maging one of the stars sa Philippine football.”

High praise, given that Merida has handled the Men’s team for seven years and has coached and coached against a number of talents that have made the transition from the UAAP to the professional and National Team level.

Guys like Paolo Bugas, Paolo Salenga, Daniel Gadia, and Jhan-Jhan Melliza to name a few.

For Merida, there’s no doubt that Jarvey has the National Team in his future.

“Kay Jarvey, yung sa tingin ko, if maglaro siya sa left wing or nine position or ten, kaya niya. Yung maganda kay Jarvey, naglalaro siya sa a utility. Any position, any formation, kaya niya mag-adjust. Yung ibang coaches, they want Jarvey na sa PFL and sa National Team. Pang-National Team na talaga si Jarvey for me.”

But it isn’t just the ones closest to him that have already taken notice.

Azkals team captain Phil Younghusband, who got to play with Jarvey on the national team in a friendly tournament, has seen what the kid can bring.

“I watched a bit of him in the SEA Games and the Under-23s, I was also able to train with him, we played some friendlies when he’s played for Ateneo, I played with him in Taiwan, he has good speed, good touch, he’s very direct, has a good shot. He has potential to score and be effective for the Philippines.”

The nation’s leading goal scorer believes that like other homegrown talents such as former skipper Chieffy Caligdong and National Team regulars Amani Aguinaldo and Patrick Deyto, Jarvey has to provide an impact for the Philippines.

“Once he’s able to break through and get a run of games, I think you’ll see him excel into a very good player.”

 

Room For Improvement

With all the expectations put on him and all the achievements he’s already attained so far, it’s easy for a young player like Jarvey to become complacent and rest on his laurels.

And while many will say that he’s ready for this and good enough to do that, he’ll be the first to say that he’s got a long way to go.

“There’s a lot of reasons for me to say that I’m not there yet, and I know that I have a lot to improve on, and I still have two more years after this season, and I think every season that begins, it’s a clean slate so I have to work my way up again, we have to work our way up again, it’s like starting from zero whenever we start a season so we just have to continue to do better and to just always be hungry.”

There to remind him at all times is his biggest critic, none other than his dad, former PBA standout Jayvee Gayoso.

“I have a lot of mistakes. I notice it in the game, and my father, whenever he watches, he always messages me after about the mistakes that I make, my touches, my passes, my controlling, my mentality towards starting ang playing every single game.”

 

The Ultimate Goal

Whether or not Jarvey Gayoso lives up to the expectations put on him as the future of Philippine football remains to be seen.

What’s clear now, however, as on the level that he’s in now, he’s a bonafide star.

And for now, that serves as his main focus. Sure, he’ll work hard to reach the pros and the National Team, but right now, his top priority is to finish his studies.

After all, they're called “Student-Athletes”. The “student” comes first.

“It’s in my mind, yes. I have had ideas [ of going pro] already, but of course my ultimate goal is graduating so that I have another reason to live by, I have my diploma to carry me on after football.”

If Jarvey plans on maxing out his UAAP eligibility, then it means that after this season, we could have two more years of jersey number eleven playing Ateneo football.

Two more years of continuing to make his case as the next big star in Philippine football.

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