It’s funny how most Filipinos are obsessed with basketball (present company included), but we, as a race, aren’t built for basketball. There is a non-negotiable requirement which we don’t have, height. We are not tall. That’s why it’s refreshing to see that soccer football is catching up in popularity. Kids all over Cebu are getting in touch with their inner Pelé and one of our football stars has officially joined the training pool of the Philippine’s storied national team, the Azkals.

Paolo Pascual joined the tryouts and became one of the 11 who made it to the training pool. He was asked to stay and train for the World Cup 2014 qualifier and the U23 Southeast Asian Games. This has prompted him to move to Manila and continue his studies there as he pursues football as a career.

Fresh from the Azkals win against Mongolia, we were able to get in touch with Paolo and ask him a few questions. Everybody this is Paolo Pascual.

032: How does it feel to suddenly have all this media attention? Has it affected your training/playing in any way?
Paolo: The media attention hasn’t really affected my game. Actually, it boosts me up knowing that I am representing Cebu and in that way it can help make Cebu known for many talents.

032: What’s it like growing up in Cebu being a football fan?
Paolo: Growing up in Cebu as a football fan really helped me develop my game, playing in several tournaments in Cebu made me grow and helped me to become an experienced player.

032: We read that your first serious sport was swimming. How do you think swimming prepared you to becoming a football player? Or a goalkeeper?
Paolo: Swimming prepared me physically especially with my stamina. Also the physical movements done in football can somehow be related to swimming, such as the development of the legs and upper body.

032: What can you say about the competition in Cebu? How does Cebu compare to the competition in Manila?
Paolo: The competition in Cebu has been growing. Development of football in Cebu is increasing and it’s even becoming more competitive. The competition in Manila is a lot tougher mainly because there are more football players here, and the sport in Manila is rapidly getting better because there are many tournaments. There are leagues here that have a high level of play, and the Azkals are based here which can really make the sport known.

032: What role did your coach Mario Ceniza have in making you a better player?
Paolo: Coach Mario helped me a lot. He helped me become a better player. From giving me experience to teaching technique and to practicing the skills, he has taught me very well.

032: Do you plan to continue playing football professionally? What are your goals as a football player? Where would you want to play?
Paolo: Yes, I want to play abroad soon, but for now I am focused on playing for the Azkals and probably soon I could apply for a football career outside the Philippines.

032: What is your favorite team?
Paolo: My favorite team is Manchester United

Paolo Pascual’s top 5 football players:

Iker Casillas
C Ronaldo
Pepe Reina

Photo Credit: Joel Pascual

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