Loyola Meralco Sparks youngsters Jorrel Aristorenas and Kouichi Belgira have been selected to take part in a Philippine National Football Team training camp ahead of a busy year for the country’s senior side. Both players have impressed in four straight starts in the UFL Cup, and their performances have not gone unnoticed by Philippine head coach Thomas Dooley.
Aristorenas, who just turned 22, has been a mainstay so far this season, given the responsibility of opening up opposition defenses from the center of midfield with his vision and quick feet. Playing with more confidence and freedom, the former Under-23 national is now one step closer to achieving the dream of every Filipino footballer – to represent the Philippines in senior competitions.
“We had a really long pre-season where we were working very hard, so to be recognized is kind of like a nice little reward for all the hard work,” said Aristorenas.
Belgira’s emergence has come as more of a shock to the nation’s footballing community. Only 19 years of age, the Filipino-Japanese teenager was an unknown entity before showing up to a trial for the Loyola Meralco Sparks. Since then, the wing back has been nothing but solid, needing no time to acclimatize to the likes of Ceres-La Salle and Global in the UFL. Armed with an unshakeable confidence in his own ability, an admirable work rate, and an impressive resolve on the big stage, Belgira could very well be the surprise package of the year.
Together, the duo make an exciting prospect for both club and country, and provide more proof that ability and hard work will be recognized, no matter how young.