Yanti Barsales confirmed last night after the Air Force clinched the UFL title that he will be retiring from International football. He is starting to find the schedule too difficult to cope with: “I’m tired…” he said, still with a huge smile after winning back to back championships with the Air Force. A professional as always, Barsales noted that “I’ve spoken to Dan [Palami, the National Team manager,] about it but at 38 I’m struggling [to keep up with the regular demands of football]”.
Yanti Barsales has been a great example for Philippine football over the years, playing for the national side well before their recent rise to fame. He will perhaps be best remembered for his heart and determination, which he shows in bucket loads, giving everything in each game. Fans were endeared to the player even more when he was flattened by a kick from the Burmese goalkeeper in the first game of the AFC Challenge Cup group stage earlier this year. Upon recovering the first thing the veteran striker asked was if he’d scored from his lob over the goalkeeper, showing his dedication to the team over even his own safety. Check out respected journalist Mike Limpag’s article on that here: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/sports/2011/03/25/limpag-yanti-barsales-azkals-super-lolo
Colleague and respected football fan Craig Burrows said of Yanti that “I will never forget the moment that Yanti was stretched off the pitch in Burma. He raised his head and did not ask about his serious injuries but just asked what happened for the team.” The Philippines went on to draw that game 1-1, James Younghusband converted the penalty to give the team a crucial point. This was by no means the first time Barsales had been seriously injured for the cause as he was knocked out challenging for a header during the 1997 Tiger Cup.
Despite his age the great role-model scored eight goals this season for the Air Force, finishing just behind nephew and teammate Ian Araneta and Global striker Izzeldin El Habbib. Barsales was also the league’s top scorer in its inaugural season scoring eight goals in that campaign too, winning the Most Valuable Player award for his contribution. This included the winning goal in the final match of the season against Army Phitten at Nomads Sports Club.
With the sport ever-evolving in the Philippines Barsales may feel as if he is struggling to keep up but fans across the country still have great respect for the player. Not only on the pitch but off it, in his duties as Staff Sergeant and with his family, Yanti Barsales has been an ambassador for the Philippines in his hardworking and determined nature, never giving up no matter what the odds. Yanti says that he will play one more season in the UFL before hanging up his boots for good so we can at least look forward to seeing him at UMAK each week for one more year.
Hopefully he will feature in the Azkals vs. UFL All Stars game on Sunday at UMAK, 5pm kick-off. It seems like the player dubbed Super Lolo won’t play another competitive game for the National team, ending a fantastic career which has inspired the next generation of Azkals.
Philippine football owes a lot to Yanti Barsales and today we say thank you!