"The secret is to believe in your dreams; in your potential that you can be like your star, keep searching, keep believing and don’t lose faith in yourself." Neymar
Like most great football players, De La Salle University and national team player Shanden Vergara was born to a family that lived and breathed football. He was born on July 17, 1999, to John Jason Vergara, a coach, and physical therapist, and Marife T. Vergara, a private nurse. They hail from San Carlos City, deep in the football triangle where Iloilo and Bacolod, the centre of Philippine football culture is located.
Shanden’s brother, Mason Trent, was also a University of the East football scholar, and both boys started doing kick-ups with their father as soon as they started to walk. Shanden spent his elementary years in Daisy’s ABC School, honing his footballing talent with friends and family in the Los Amigos Football Club of San Carlos City. His outstanding talent allowed him to be a national team player for the U14, U18, and U19 levels.
Approaching his senior high school year, Coach Hans Smit of La Salle spotted Shanden as he was playing against the Green Archers, and immediately recruited the senior for De La Salle Zobel. Shanden stood out as a fast-paced attacking midfielder. In this last season, Shanden gained much attention due to his technique, game intelligence and strong playing style, helping to bring De La Salle University to the finals, beating the defending champions University of the Philippines. He was awarded the much-deserved TOP ROOKIE FOR 2019 SEASON 81.
For the coming Fall semester 2019 in the United States, Shanden will be flying to Snow College, Utah, after being scouted by Sports Recruiting USA (SRUSA), a U.S. college soccer recruiting consultancy that has been placing student-athletes in colleges and universities across America since 2010. SRUSA’s founder, Chris Cousins, said that Shanden was selected “because of not only his obvious fantastic football abilities but because of his desire to succeed.” Shanden became one of only 50 recruits from all over the world, a testament to the international standard of Shanden’s skills.
SRUSA has recruited players from famous clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal, as well as a number of youth national team players from several countries. When asked about what was required to develop into an international athlete...
Cousins replied,” I'm a firm believer, nothing magical happens in your comfort zone, so stepping out, opening new doors, will only bring new things and opportunities in life.” Cousins also believes there are other potentially talented Filipino athletes who can compete on a global level and he adds, “The world is such a small place these days, with the technology and opportunities available. The key to accessing all of these is education. Whether you are from the poorest area to the best schools, everyone is human and if you put the hard work in, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.”
Ironically, Shanden, named after a Utah Jazz NBA player in the 90’s, will soon be proving his football prowess in the great state of Utah. Shanden will report to Head Coach Nuno Gourgel, a Portuguese native who grew up in London, playing for the Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club Academy, Leyton Orient FC, while also representing Portugal internationally at U-15, U-16 and U-17 levels.
“I’m excited and very thankful to SRUSA and to Football for Humanity for leading me to this path where I will be able to test myself on all levels. I welcome the challenge, I look forward to working really hard,” Shanden declared upon learning that he had qualified for a scholarship. “It’s a dream come true, and I’d like my fellow Filipino players to realise that they should not put a limit to their aspirations, and to aim very high. We’re the generation that will really quantum leap football, and now is the best time to show the younger ones that this is an exciting, fulfilling way to see the world, and build your future. Through football, we can change the future,” Shanden added.
SRUSA is partnered with Football for Humanity Foundation, a football charity founded by British national Chris Thomas who concluded “We’re very proud of Shanden; he has the attitude of a champion, very respectful and determined to be the best. We will continue to support him and lead him to greater heights in his career, whether in the US, UK, Europe, or anywhere in the world. We hope that many other deserving youth will follow in his footsteps and really show the world that the Philippines possesses enormous athletic talent, just waiting to be discovered. Soon they will make all Filipinos proud."