Wool Reyes, Team Socceroo founder, passes away
Wool Reyes, Team Manager and Founder of Team Socceroo passed away yesterday, March 18, due complications arising from a brain aneurysm.
A little over a week ago, I sat at the bleachers of the Emperador Stadium trying to collect my thoughts about a lot of things. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon and there weren’t many people yet at the venue for the day’s UFL matches.
Wool and his brother Mike sidled over. “Hey, Rick,” said Wool. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
I cocked an eyebrow.
“Have you seen Team Socceroo lately,” he asked rather proudly.
“No. But I have heard about you guys doing well since you merged with the Trias guys,” I said. “Good job. That should move you up next season.”
“So when are you going to write about us?”
“Soon, buddy. Soon.”
Then he went on to chat for a few more minutes about Team Socceroo, football, and sundry.
I first met Wool during the press conference for the 2011 UFL Cup at the Shangri La EDSA. Wool and his brother Mike came over and introduced themselves. They even had their own business card that said "Team Socceroo." In fact, they are the only ones in local football with a business card for their team. They asked if I could write about their team that they had just formed. The scramble for top players was on and they could only scrounge for their high school teammates from Southridge and some Brazilians. I was intrigued. Cool, I said and we made and arrangement to meet at a coffee shop at BGC a few days after.
A few other teammates of his came for the interview including Madz Nidea, who played in the Ateneo Football League that I run with Rely San Agustin. I remember asking, "Where's Daniel Matsunaga?" Replied Wool, "You mean I am not enough?" We cracked up.
I wrote a short piece about Team Socceroo for my blog, Bleachers Brew and I got quite a few responses wondering why I bothered to write a bunch of nobodies more so after what happened next.
I remember that day well when Team Socceroo entered the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. They were singing, dancing – maybe because of their Brapanese contingent – and well, just having a good time. I greeted the team and spent some time in their dugout chatting and getting some stories to get some stories out of them.
Up in the stands, friends and family filled a certain section festooned with colored balloons, clappers, and signs. I even got to meet Ms. Tina (who thanked me for the article, the first ever on the team), the mother of the Reyes brood who fully supported her sons’ efforts.
Sadly, they lost rather infamously, 13-1 to Loyola.
I checked on Wool after the game and despite the beatdown, remained up beat. “Got to learn how fall before you fly,” he said with contagious optimism.
After that match, I never got to really write about Team Socceroo except in game recaps.
During the build up for the previous year’s Clear Dream Match, when I sent out an invite for UFL teams to participate in, Wool did not hesitate to offer Team Socceroo’s involvement. Wool’s younger brother, Paulus, was able to participate as the fans voted him in for the All-Star Celebrity Game. Said Wool of Paulus’ participation, “At least we had a representative from Team Socceroo.”
During the Division Two battles last season, I sat down with him and his brothers briefly before a match up with powerhouse Pachanga. In the stands were Ms. Tina, the streamers, and the friends and family still rooting for him and the team. Never mind if they were up against the best team in Division Two. Said Wool before the match, “We might get killed. But we could hold them to a draw or even score an upset. That’s why we play the game. But again, it’s part of the journey.”
Pachanga crushed team Socceroo but Reyes as always looked on the bright side.
Wool kept at it. Stubbornly. Wholeheartedly. Maybe that’s the root word – “heart”. His team’s motto is “plenus pectus” that in English means “Full hearts” that he co-opted from Friday Night Lights, the television series about a coach and his high school football team. “It’s a perfect line,” he says of the motto. “And that’s my direction.”
Team Socceroo did get better and are now atop the Division Two table. And Wool did ask, “So when are you going to write about us?”
I will, Wool. I will.
Rest in peace, buddy.