Azkals development team provides career path for college stars
Harboring dreams of playing overseas, former UAAP most valuable player Jarvey Gayoso made a tough decision to forgo his final year of eligibility at Ateneo for a chance to accelerate his improvement with the Azkals Development Team (ADT), which will be fielded by the Philippine Football Federation as a guest team in the Philippines Football League.
Having watched some of his contemporaries like Amani Aguinaldo and Marco Casambre already get a taste of what it’s like to play in countries where football has a much higher profile, Gayoso now wants to follow that path.
Aguinaldo, 24, is playing for Trat FC in Thai League 1 after a strong season in Malaysia last year, but he’s already chalked up 38 appearances for the Azkals. The defender, however, focused on his pro career as early as 2014 in lieu of playing in the UAAP and he’s reaping the benefits of starting out early.
Now 23 with a year left to finish his management degree at Ateneo, Jarvey, son of former PBA player Jayvee Gayoso, also sees that path, but feels no regrets staying longer in the college game.
“This is the best time for me to take the leap,” Gayoso said. “I don’t think I would’ve been as prepared. My mind-set would have been in a different place. So right now, the only thing in my mind at the moment is to have that opportunity to play overseas. I just want to grow as a player.”
The ADT will provide just that for Gayoso, whose checkered career in the UAAP includes a couple of championships.The program could be a game changer as collegiate stars may now be forced to rethink their options with the ADT providing a pathway to opportunities for a career outside the country.
“I think this is the best idea we’ve had since I’ve been here, because there aren’t any really professional club academies here,” Azkals coach Scott Cooper said. “There are not that many academies and so we needed to find a way that we could identify players and try to develop them.”
Dan Palami, the Azkals manager, said the ADT’s goal is to develop players and expose them to a more professional environment.
Gayoso said his time with the Azkals Under-22 side in the Southeast Asian Games gave him plenty of realizations as a player. That team also had several collegiate stars in Jerome Marzan of San Beda and Mar Diano of UE, who have also moved on to the ADT.
Playing as a leftback, Gayoso found himself taking on players his age, but with plenty of experience at the pro level. Admittedly, he struggled to cope with the tempo of the games. INQ
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