How football helped a former boy’s home athlete achieve a scholarship
ANTIQUE, Philippines – For some, the battlefield only exists when inside the football field. Scars and bruises are endured inside every game, and athletes would wholeheartedly sacrifice themselves for the sake of the team.
But for others like Jessie Reil Semblante, the battle doesn’t end when the whistle blows. Rather, a more important battle begins right after the game has finished.
Each time he walks away from the football field, Semblante knows he has to go back to reality. The real fight continues: life.
A better life
“My parents are market vendors and can’t afford to send me and my siblings to school,” said Sembrante, who has four siblings. “All of us go to the boy’s home. We really can’t afford it.”
The Don Bosco Boy’s Home Liloan freely provides shelter and education for the underprivileged to give them a chance at a better future – and Semblante along with his siblings is one of those.
For Cebu-native Semblante, football came as a blessing in disguise as he didn’t actually expect he’d learn and appreciate the sport by heart.
“My friends and I at the boy’s home started playing when I was in grade 5,” said Semblante who was 10-years old that time. “I was just fooling around that time until a coach discovered that I could be good at this.”
With the hopes of making it somewhere, Semblante pursued being a football player.
A little time was all it took for Semblante to land on being part of the country’s best as he’s been a consistent Philippine Team member for 4 years.
“I was part of the U-13 to U-16 Team Philippines,” shared the 17-year old. “It was such an overwhelming experience for me especially that I didn’t expect to make it big through football.”
In his debut in the Palarong Pambansa in 2016, Semblante played for the Central Visayas region. With the talent he displayed, he caught the attention of some recruitment coaches from Manila.
Now, he is playing as a goalkeeper for the San Beda College-Taytay Red Booters and represented Calabarzon in Palaro 2017.
In the quarterfinals match, Calabarzon beat Central Visayas in a 5-4 shootout and it was one of the hardest matches Semblante has ever played since he had to go against his former team.
“It was painful,” said Semblante. “I learned a lot of things as I played for Central Visayas. They will always be special to me.”
Semblante also received a full scholarship at San Beda as senior high school student and is being invited to continue his stay when he graduates with one of the best football teams in the NCAA.
“Because of football, I am able to study in a good school in Manila and achieve my dreams,” said the grade 11 student-athlete Semblante. “I’m really grateful for the opportunities given to me because this also helps my family.”
Semblante shared that he gives the cash incentives he receives from playing and competing as an athlete to his family to help them in Cebu.
“Whenever I come home with pasalubongs, all of them would be really excited. Making them happy is what’s important for me. I always play my best because of them, I want to help my family get out of our situation,” said Semblante who’s siblings are still at the boy’s home.
The Calabarzon squad ended Palaro 2017 with a bronze medal and Semblante, who is dreaming to be part of the national football team, is ever-grateful for the win. – Rappler.com
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