Mariano earns call-up to Matao, final squad list named

[June 4, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] For every championship, trophy, and medal that fans see and celebrate with their team, the underlying sacrifices, work-family commitment juggling, and the pressure to meet physical and mental demands of being a top athlete are not always visible.

For Matao veteran Ian Mariano, the work doesn’t stop with selection to the Guam’s final national football team roster, but instead intensifies each day closer to kickoff.

“In my opinion, there are two main factors for team selection – the first is sacrifice,” Mariano said. “Are you willing to sacrifice time with family and friends to train, regardless of the time of day? Are you willing to sacrifice holidays to fly to foreign countries to compete? Are you willing to sacrifice your child’s school performance or program to show up to training? The second factor may seem like a cliché, but for me, it’s hard work. Yes, it’s one thing to show up for sessions, but to actually put your head down and grind out the hours you’re there for is another animal.”

On most days, Mariano wakes up as early as 4:30 a.m. to get himself ready for training. By 5:30 a.m., he’s out the door to arrive at the Guam Football Association National Training Center by 5:45 a.m. By 6 a.m., Mariano is doing prehabilitation exercises and begins warm-up for training by 6:15 a.m. Between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., he trains with the rest of the Matao squad and for an hour after, works out at the GFA Fitness Center.

He later returns home to drop his son, Ian Taylor, to school at 9 a.m., then follows with a proper breakfast. Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., he goes to work and meetings, and after, he coaches club and high school teams. Dinner and family time is set between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., and the process repeats itself all over again. Mariano considers himself fortunate to have family and friends who support his ambition playing at the international level.

“I have the best support system,” said Mariano, who made his debut for Guam in 2006 when he was just 15 years old. “My girlfriend Province has been so supportive with my playing/coaching career – she too has a full schedule to juggle, so times can be hard, especially having to find a babysitter for Ian Taylor. My parents (Tony and Josephine) who have been there from beginning – they along with my sisters, Auntie “Ani”, and Auntie “Well” pick up the slack when both Province and I are working, and Auntie “E” in California – I appreciate all of them so much for the support.

“Additionally I’d like to acknowledge Keith Dickson, who has supported me by involving me with coaching programs. I assist him with teams in the Bank of Guam Strykers Football Club, as well as high school teams from Father Duenas Memorial School and St. John’s School,” added Mariano, who currently plays for the Bank of Guam Strykers FC in the Premier Division of the Budweiser Soccer League.

Mariano is among 22 other players called up to the Matao for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1. Mariano joins goalkeepers Dallas Jaye, Elias Jesus, and Alexander Stenson, and field players Mark Chargualaf, Joey Ciochetto, Jason Cunliffe, A.J. DeLaGarza, Ethan Elwell, Marlon Evans, Kyle Halehale, Isiah Lagutang, Alex Lee, Justin Lee, Nate Lee, Marcus Lopez, Shane Malcolm, Devan Mendiola, Eddie Na, Dylan Naputi, Shawn Nicklaw, Travis Nicklaw, and Dominic Perez.

Karl Dodd is the team’s Head Coach and is assisted by Daniel McBreen and Matthew Ham. Sepp Rafie, Michael Wilson, Marcel Noronha, and J.R. Campos also have been named to the team’s traveling staff.

“The Matao is going through a generational change and this four-year cycle is seeing the implementation of a new playing style, culture, values, and expectations,” Dodd said. “Selection is based on the best performing players that are willing to wear the shirt with pride, deliver the tactics set out, and be willing to work harder than their opponent … Ultimately, it comes down to accountability for performances, with the players ensuring that they are doing everything they can from a training, hydration, diet, sleep, and analysis point of view to optimize their performance.”

The Matao are currently in Bhutan to play the first leg of the round on Jun. 6, then return to Guam June 11 to play the second leg against Bhutan at GFA.

The match in Bhutan is set to kick off at 6 p.m. Bhutan time (10 p.m. Guam time) A live feed of the match will be shown at GFA on a giant screen and there is no admission fee to watch the Jun. 6 match at GFA.

For the second-leg match on Jun. 11, tickets are available for purchase at GFA to watch live. The GFA Main Office will extend its operating hours particularly for ticket sales beginning Thursday, to include the weekend.

For more information about the qualification round or ticket sales, call the GFA Main Office at 637-4321.


Ian Mariano, called up to the Matao for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1, takes part in a recent training session at the Guam Football Association National Training Center. Mariano recently joined 22 other players called up to the Matao in Bhutan for the first leg of the qualification round. The team returns to Guam to play in the second leg of the qualification round against Bhutan, set to kick off at 3:15 p.m. at GFA. Tickets for the June 11 match are on sale at GFA.

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