After a four-year drought, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons were UAAP Men’s Football Champions once again after they defeated the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Season 78 Finals held last Thursday (May 5, 2016) at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
A key player in the Fighting Maroons’ championship campaign has been midfielder Daniel Gadia. Gadia had a difficult start to Season 78 when he was converted to a striker to compensate for Jinggoy Valmayor, who had ended his UAAP eligibility last Season 77. However, he was put back in his favored midfield position and his performances noticeably improved.
Gadia’s dominance in midfield has been so impressive that he has been awarded the Most Valuable Player prize for his exploits at the end of Season 78. He was thankful for UP’s latest championship. Nevertheless, he was quick to pass off the credit to his teammates. “Siguro collective effort sa team. Kinuha lang namin yung objective, binigay namin dito sa field para kay Rogie. Good run this year. Four consecutive tournaments, four finals. Nakuha namin tatlong crown, isang second place so keep on improving. For me, look more ahead for my bigger improvement sa paglalaro ng Football.”
Season 78 has been an emotional rollercoaster ride for Gadia and his teammates. Their former comrade, Rogie Maglinas, had passed away due to cancer before the season started. Gadia vowed that he wouldn’t stop until he had fulfilled Maglinas’ ambition. He added, “Sabay kami nangarap before. Nangarap kaming makuha yung title. Ngayon binigay ko sa kanya. Someday sinabi niya sa akin gusto niya mag-Azkals. Maybe mabigyan ako ng chance makapaglaro dun. Bibigay ko lahat para kay Rogie.”
Maglinas has had a profound effect on Gadia’s life, so much so that the latter stated that Maglinas will always be a part of his life. “Nasa loob na siya sa akin eh,” admits Gadia. He then reiterated that he will play and make it a point to bring honor to Maglinas’ name. “Kasi sa paglalaro na yun, dun siya masaya eh. Sa akin, pag naglalaro ako ibibigay ko lahat kasi blessed ako nakakapaglaro ako every day. Every week may games ako. Kasi si Rogie, yan yung nagpapakasaya sa kanya tapos kinuha pa sa kanya.”
It wasn’t only Gadia whose life has been touched by Maglinas, but the rest of the UP squad as well. Gadia said that Maglinas has served as an inspiration for the team to push themselves no matter how exhausted they have been. He elaborated, “Yung buhay niya punong-puno ng paghihirap eh diba tapos paglalaro na lang ng football ibibigay namin. Siya nga minsan hindi kumakain. Minsan hindi kumakain tapos naglalaro ng football pero binibigay pa rin niya ang lahat so hundred percent lang everytime I play para kay Rogie.”
The passing of Maglinas had reminded everyone of how tragically short human life can be. Gadia and the rest of the UP squad paid Maglinas the highest of respects after both the Fighting Maroons and the Lady Maroons clinched their respective UAAP Football Titles on the same day. In one’s passing, the best way to honor them is to do good in their name. There will still be many trials for the UP squad, but rest assured that Gadia and company will strive for that perfect effort under Maglinas’ watch.