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Fidel Tacardon elated to contribute in first year with UP

The UAAP Men’s Football tournament has always seen spectacular performances, not only from the seasoned veterans, but also from rookies who some might mistake for experienced players with the way they play on the pitch. This season is no exception.

However, one particular newcomer has given more than a lift to his squad — he was even able to fill in the shoes of a former UAAP Most Valuable Player.

Enter Fidel Tacardon.

Four years ago, the very young Tacardon had set his sights on a particular university. He shared, “Nung first year high school pa lang ako wala na talaga kong ibang university na gustong mapuntahan kundi UP. At dahil na rin nga sa mga teammates ko na galing Claret na pumunta sa UP, and si coach Anto [Gonzales] naging coach ko nung bata pa ko.”

The desire to play for the Diliman institution only increased when he watched the UAAP Season 78 Final and saw how the squad — led by captain and eventual MVP Daniel Gadia — bamboozled the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.

Iba talaga yung dating ni Gadia sa loob ng field,” the upstart enthused of the Fighting Maroons’ former skipper.

“Kasi sinasalo niya lahat ng teammates niya na nasa loob. So, yun nga, with the leadership of Gadia, sobrang malungkot yung ending for Ateneo.”

Entering UP, however, Tacardon hadn’t been aware of whether he would be placed in Gadia’s position or not, but the freshman simply set his mind to the task at hand.

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He said, “Admittedly, hindi talaga mapapalitan si Gadia sa team. Although lahat naman siguro ng freshmen may pressure ‘pag pasok ng team kasi una, new teammates at new game plan, [at] pangalawa, ‘di mo pa sila ganun kakilala, so it will take time to adjust.

“Siguro kung naisip ko man na ako ‘yung papalit kay Gadia, mas lalo akong kakabahan.”

With this mindset, the forward started his career with the Maroons on the right foot, scoring goals here and there in the Ang Liga preseason tournament. Nonetheless, as they say, “UAAP is UAAP” and the pressure of the league itself is a different animal.

Despite the way the playmaker looked at things, it was still different during the actual game. He recalled having nerves during his first-ever UAAP match. Take this: you would be starting for the Maroons at the Rizal Memorial Stadium against the defending champions Blue Eagles.

Tacardon narrated, “Yung first game ko, sobrang kabado ako to be honest. I think nahalata rin ng seniors ko na kabado ako kasi Ateneo pa ‘yung kalaban namin. Ateneo is one of the strongest teams sa UAAP na makakalaban namin, tapos first game ko pa sila.

“‘Pag first game kasi diyan ko talaga kinukuha ‘yung momentum ko, kaya if fail sa first game, feeling ko buong tournament will all be a mess.”

Although many observers and frequent audience members of the games said that Fidel would be a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year award, it was not primarily what he’d had in mind.

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UAAP-Season-80-mens-football-rookie-of-the-year-fidel-tacordon Fidel Tacardon elated to contribute in first year with UP Football News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

The first-year Statistics major said, “Never ko talaga inexpect yung award kasi ‘di important ‘yung individual awards. Siguro bonus na lang yung ROY. Ang importante talaga [sa ‘kin] is yung pagtulong sa team and ‘yung improvement na makukuha mo every game.”

Fifteen matches after that anxious first match, Tacardon has clinched the top rookie plum, and he also went out as a champion with his dream squad. The forward is understandably ecstatic.

“Sobrang saya na makatulong sa team ko ngayon. Kasi ‘yun nga, pinaghirapan namin ito para lang makarating [rito]. So being able to contribute ay nakakagaan ng feeling lalo na para ‘to sa mga gagagraduate na seniors ko,” he expressed.

“Words can’t explain how happy I am.”

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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