MORE than just kicking the ball, winning titles, and setting the standard for club football in the Philippines, Ceres-Negros FC Chairman Leo Rey Yanson also supports the University of Saint La Salle Men’s Football program.
Also an alumnus of La Salle Bacolod football, LRY has created a program that not only produces talented footballers but also college graduates who make positive changes in their lives and the lives of their families.
One of the first few graduates of the Ceres-La Salle program is Marson De La Torre. The former collegiate midfielder witnessed the club’s inception and is one of the success stories of the program that was initiated by Club Chairman Leo Rey Yanson.
“The first time I attended La Salle was in 2010 and Ceres wasn’t in the picture yet. Two years later, it became the Ceres-La Salle football team where the collegiate team was supported by LRY,” said the Pontevedra, Negros Occidental native.
“After we started in 2012 as Ceres-La Salle, we were champions in NOPSCEAA and even in UNIGAMES because of his support. Before, we only used to play solely in Negros, but because of LRY we were able to participate and even became champions in the National PRISAA which was held in Pangasinan,” De La Torre added.
The club chairman was always keen to motivate his wards, always stressing the importance of getting their degrees while playing the sport in the process.
“He would always remind us Football is always there, but what is more important is that we study and earn our degrees,” added the Interdisciplinary Studies graduate.
“His words really made a mark, especially for me because I come from a poor family,” said De la Torre who is now a banker for a major European bank in the Philippines. “LRY emphasized the value of education and that getting our diplomas would be the biggest trophy we can give him in return.”
Coming from a poor family in Sagay City, Alfe Sebuha didn’t have it easy growing up. Life was hard. Either it was a life in construction or work in the farms in Northern Negros.
Football was his favorite hobby and he was good at it. Eventually, his hobby led him to a football scholarship to West Negros University in Bacolod city.
He trained and went to school weekdays and helped in his father construction during the weekends. Ceres-La Salle came calling after a few years later and it was where he continued his education while playing football. He eventually graduated in 2015.
Now the equipment manager of Ceres-Negros FC, Sebuha is nothing but grateful for all the opportunities that came his way especially for the full support of the club chairman through the years.
“I’m very grateful to Boss LRY,” said the do-it-all kitman. “He has helped me and my family tremendously by giving me free education and helping me reach my dream of earning a diploma.”
“I have experienced a lot in my life because of him, especially with having the chance to play with many clubs abroad. We are forever indebted to him and we continue to support him all the way,” he added.
Jo Warren Bedia played for Ceres-La Salle for his entire college career and graduated in 2017. The Calinog native had a memorable collegiate spell winning individual awards, NOPSCEAA titles, and a UNIGAMES title to boot.
Now a professional player for Stallion Laguna, the former Ceres-La Salle striker is very appreciative of his spell in the team and the memorable experiences that came with it.
“I went to Barotac Nuevo for a tryout with La Salle and with God’s grace I was accepted to be a player of the squad. We won many championships during my stay and with it the opportunity to travel across the Philippines to play,” said Bedia.
“I never expected to set foot in places such as Davao City, Cotabato, and Manila. Football allowed me to go to Manila and even ride the airplane for the first time,” he said gleefully.
He would never forget the advice that LRY would always remind the players through the years. That they should work on our schooling and never take it for granted because it is the only fall back they can have.
Bedia is very grateful of the full support that the club chairman has provided during his stint in La Salle which allowed him to reach his dream in life.
“I was just a kid from Calinog who likes to kick the ball and ended up getting a degree from La Salle Bacolod. Now, I’ve fulfilled my desire to be a professional football player in the Philippines,” said the Stallion player.
“I would like to thank Boss LRY for all the support since day one and I will never forget everything that he has done for me. I hope that he can help other poor kids like me who wants to champions on and off the pitch.”
With over one hundred plus scholars since its inception, the Ceres-La Salle football program has helped many individuals achieve their goals through the years. The program hopes to continue its pledge on providing its football scholars a good college education and a better chance in life. (Photos from Ceres-Negros FC and PFL)