Football? It’s everything. Football isn’t something I do, it’s who I am. I just feel closer to my soul when I play.”
For 19-year-old Michael Yuvienco, goalkeeper of the San Beda College football team, the sport isn’t just a pastime—it’s a way of life.
Everyday, when most people are still asleep, Michael is already up, getting ready to train. He makes his way to the football field, where he trains rigorously with his teammates. They begin by warming up and doing basic drills together, after which he separates from them and undergoes a different kind of training specifically for goalkeepers.
This routine lasts for around three hours in the wee hours of the morning, right before Michael starts his school day.
Most people would find this kind of lifestyle laborious. But for Michael, it’s gratifying. Football is his outlet, something that he needs to do to complete his day. “Every time I can’t play, I get really depressed,” he admits.
Michael began playing football 12 years ago, back in his hometown in Negros Occidental. Football is his first love; he can still vividly recall going regularly to the football field, where he watches his peers as they skillfully kick the ball around, carefully avoiding rivals and trying to score.
“I witnessed the excitement and the thrills of the game, and I was inspired to play,” he says.
Soon enough, he decided to experience the excitement firsthand, choosing to join the football team of Colegio de Sta. Rita in the first grade. After mastering the basics, he began to expand his skills, joining reputable football teams such as the San Carlos City Football Club, the CAPGUGE Football Club and the CSTR Football team.
It was only after graduating from high school that Michael realized he wanted to go professional. He decided that the best plan of action was to enter a college with exceptional educational programs and a well-regarded football team. For him, there was no other option: “San Beda College is the home of the champions,” he says proudly.
And it’s true: San Beda College is known for its excellence at the NCAA Football Competition, with a total of 20 championship titles since the league started in 1924. San Beda is also this year’s defending champion, having won the title since the 2010-2011 season.
Michael is proud to have contributed to the team’s status. He says, “It’s an honor to play for San Beda Manila. It wasn’t easy to maintain the title, since the other teams worked hard to take the spot. But I’m blessed to be part of this team.”
Going to San Beda has its sacrifices, primarily because Michael had to leave Negros. “It’s hard to be away from my family,” he says. “’Yung feeling na malayo ako sa kanila,mahirap. Nakakalungkot na homesick din ako. Gusto ko na ngang sumuko dati, pero kinaya ko. Sayang din yung opportunity na makapag-aral dito.”
Michael’s parents continue to support him. “Masaya ang family ko na dito ako nag-aral sa isang magandang school. Supportive naman ’yung parents ko.”
It is this loving support that guides Michael as he continues to pursue his passion. “Nasanay na rin ako na malayo sa kanila kasi third year na ako. Malapit na rin akong mag-graduate kaya konting tiis na lang,” he says.
As he nears graduation, Michael keeps his eyes on the prize, focused on his childhood dream of becoming a professional football player. “I want to find a job and play for UFL,” he says. “I want to play there, since football in the Philippines is rapidly growing.”
He aspires to join the Ceres-La Salle Football Club, a prominent football team in Negros Occidental. “Most of my teammates from my hometown are members of that team. I can easily bond with them,” he says.
Although Michael has the talent and the unyielding determination required of him to become a professional football player, he is nervous about what lies in store for him after school. “I wish I could predict the future, but I can’t,” he admits.
In any case, he continues to persevere, firmly believing in the Bedan values of “ora et labora” or prayer and work. “I trust that God has a plan for me,” he says.
While the future remains uncertain for Michael, one thing is sure—that no matter where he goes, football will be a part of him, something that he dedicates his heart and soul to. Without a doubt, this young talent’s hard work, strong faith and steadfast passion will take him places.
“Work hard, play hard, stay humble, dream big and make it happen,” he says.