The emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease worldwide has hindered domestic and international competitions, and the UAAP is no different. Its officials signed Season 82’s cancellation on April 7, due to the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
One of the affected events in the collegiate league’s events was the Women’s Football Tournament, which only played one matchday after its initial postponement as a preemptive measure against the virus.
“I’m really sad because it was my last year, and sayang ‘yung preparation for UAAP. But I don’t have a choice, kaysa magkasakit tayong lahat,” said De La Salle University’s Cristine Duran, who was set to return after a year out because of injury, alongside 15 rookies who were excited to debut for the Lady Archers.
On the first and final matchday of the season on March 7, the three-time defending champions were the only team to not see action that day.
University of the Philippines and Far Eastern University clinched victories over University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo de Manila University respectively. Little did everyone know, though, that those two games were set to be the last for Season 82.
“We were also aiming for that four-peat kasi I’ve seen how much everyone in the team worked hard para magampanan ‘yung roles nila to achieve this goal. But I guess it’s okay since you’ll get to see them pa naman next season, and I’m sure these girls can claim that title,” said La Salle’s Arantxa del Mundo.
“I trust that they can do beyond what is expected of them.”
Duran and Del Mundo were not the only ones to see their dreams dashed — everyone else did, too. The saddest thing was that these hopes and ambitions crashed outside of the pitch, from something out of their control.
“Bago pa lang mag-start ‘yun season, excited talaga kaming lahat maglaro, lalo na mga rookies namin.
“Halos lahat makikita mo talaga na lumalaban at eager manalo every game. ‘Yun nalaman namin na cancelled nga ‘yung UAAP, sobrang nalungkot sila kasi ‘yun[g] preparations ng ilan buwan ay mawawala lang,” said FEU goalkeeper Kim Parina.
Truth be told, the writing was already on the wall for the student-athletes. The stop and start nature of the second semester sports because of COVID-19 had already thrown a wrench in their preparations. When the circular was then released, it felt like a punch in the gut that was waiting to happen.
“I expected UAAP to be cancelled due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, and I was preparing myself to hear the news. But when it finally came out I was really devastated. I thought I was prepared for it, but I guess not,” admitted UP defender Marianne Ruiz.
“I was really sad about [it]. Until now, I can’t accept the fact I’m going to say goodbye.”
“When the official cancellation was announced, we haven’t talked about it yet as a team in person but only through our online communication. They were also saddened about the news and in our hard work for this season,” said UST winger Mary Indac.
“We know we can’t do anything to change it, so we focused our mindset more on everyone’s safety and prayers rather than sadness about the cancellation.”
In light of everything, though, there are always lessons to be acquired. And they will bring a sense of perspective when thinking about everything else from here on forward.
“Sa kalagitnaan ng pangyayaring ito, natutunan ko na i-cherish every moment kasama ang team at ‘wag i-take for granted o ‘wag tatamad-tamad sa bawat training at game kasi tulad ngayon… Mag-isang buwan ng hindi nakakapag training ng football at sobrang miss na miss ng umapak sa field maglaro kasama ang mga teammates and coaches,” said FEU defender Mary Lam.
“I learned to never stop. Don’t stop learning, don’t stop helping others, don’t stop running — don’t stop. Don’t stop dreaming dreams. You’ll always be faced with challenges, but it’s always HOW you face it that will change things. Every challenge you’re faced with is a chance to grow,” said UP’s Ikeesha Aquino.
“Like I always tell my teammates, it’s always character building.”
One of the things the higher-ups in the league must settle in due time is how this situation affects the eligibility of student-athletes. However, some have called it a day in terms of their UAAP career.
“Looking back, I feel blessed to have been given the chance to be part of this team and to be able to represent the university in the UAAP. I’ve learned a lot throughout my stay, and I am who I am because of this team, this family that accepted me and put up with me the past five years, and I can’t be thankful enough. I hope I made them proud,” said UP forward Sofia Dungca.
“This is my last season.
“That’s why it’s more frustrating. It’s disappointing to end my UAAP career this way. I was really excited to play alongside my girls,” said Ateneo midfielder Nicole Bugayong.
Ultimately, there is an acceptance that the UAAP had no choice but to cancel its remaining Season 82 events because of the escalation of COVID-19. Life indeed goes on, especially for student-athletes.
“Kahit na-cancel ang UAAP ngayon, ‘wag pa din mag-relax. (Kailangan) maging fit and do some extra work out padin kahit paano,” said FEU’s Hannah Pachejo.
La Salle’s Sarah Castaneda gave a fitting conclusion:
“It’s true that we are really not in control of the things happening to us. Only God knows what is happening, and we just need to trust in what He is doing, and is with us all the time.”