Juniors star reunites with Azkals mentor
At the rate things are going with his career, teenager Pocholo Bugas seems destined for bigger things.
Just a few months after winning the UAAP Juniors football most valuable player (MVP), the former Far Eastern U star took the big leap by signing a pro contract with United City FC (UCFC), the club formerly known as Ceres-Negros FC.
With his move, Bugas is setting his sights on more prestigious tournaments like the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League as he begins his career under the tutelage of Azkals great Stephan Schrock.
“He’s really one of the reasons why I signed for United City,” said the 18-year-old of the UCFC captain, who mentored Bugas when they were teammates in the Southeast Asian Games squad last year.
Bugas has improved as a player at a rapid rate. When he moved with older brother Paolo to Manila from Davao when he was in seventh grade five years ago, Bugas wasn’t even on the varsity team of FEU. In fact, football wasn’t even Bugas’ first sport as he fell in love with table tennis earlier.
“He was small and skinny,” FEU athletic director Mark Molina said. “He lived in the dorm with his older brother, but Cholo returned the next school year a much improved player and we offered him a scholarship.”
Bugas’ development ensured that FEU sustained its winning ways in the juniors’ division last March where he led the Baby Tamaraws to the crown and claimed MVP honors. He is the latest prospect in the program that have produced AFC Cup campaigners Arnel Amita, Eric Giganto and Audie Menzi of Kaya Iloilo and national team veteran Amani Aguinaldo, who now plays for Trat in the Thai League 1.
In preparation for the Philippines Football League season, Bugas left Davao early this week to link up with UCFC teammate OJ Porteria for small group workouts.
“I really prepared for this move,” Bugas said. “Throughout the quarantine period, my only goal was to prepare my body physically as I know that I will be playing at a higher level.”
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