The other night, I got the chance to meet Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Azkals U-21 midfielder Gabriel “Gaby” Borja and Agila FC team manager Troy Borja, who is Gaby’s father. I know you might think it was awkward, but believe it or not, it was the exact opposite. As it turns out, the Borjas are really good people who share my values and principles, not only when it comes to football, but life in general. I felt very at home with them, which says a lot about how football can give us a sense of community.
While covering several topics over dinner, Gaby, a Pisay student, reminded of my May 2011 article, “All’s well that ends well,” where I said that a midfielder should be one of the most intelligent players on a team. I kept quoting Nick Hornby, an Arsenal supporter, in his autobiography Fever Pitch. It’s funny because Gaby is an Arsenal fan. I don’t know if he’s heard of the book, but somehow he embodies Hornby’s description.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Gaby play, but perhaps on the pitch, his intelligence manifests itself in the moves that he makes as he thinks ahead. In Soccernomics, they mentioned that “there is growing evidence that sporting talent and academic talent are linked.” I couldn’t agree more! That part of the book ended with this: “The best athletes have fast mental reactions, and those reactions, if properly trained, would make for high-caliber intellects.”
Did I mention that he has played for the U-14, U-16, U-18, and U-19 teams? Yes, they all exist! So don’t go saying that the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has never had a grassroots program.
Could Gaby Borja be the Jeremy Lin of Philippine football? Watch out for our feature article on him on the official Azkals website soon. Only at azkalsfootballteam.com!
UPDATE: Honor Roll: Gaby Borja is on a Roll is out!
Follow Gaby Borja on Twitter now: @GabyBorja24
Check out our previous feature articles:
- Catching up with Misagh Bahadoran
- Carlie’s Way: Break Time with Carlie Martínez de Murga
- Double Take: Marvin and Marwin Angeles