MANILA, Philippines – Azkals winger Roel Gener was born in Iloilo's Barotac Nuevo, which is known as the “Football Capital of the Philippines”.
This is why it was just natural for him to become fascinated by the sport at an early age.
Gener remembers playing football at age 4. He was usually running barefooted, kicking the ball inside a small pitch.
“Sa amin kasi sa Barotac Nuevo, ‘yon (football) ang kinagisnan namin... kapag sinabing Barotac Nuevo, ‘Ay, magaling yan.’ Dito sa Pilipinas kapag sinabing Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, football player ‘yan,” he proudly said.
However, joining the national team wasn’t really on his mind during his younger years.
It was only when he enlisted in the Philippine Army that he tried out for the national squad.
When asked about his thoughts on the growing popularity of Azkals, Gener said he is happy that the basketball-crazy Filipinos are now taking interest in football.
But he admitted being basketball crazy, too. In fact, his favorite athlete is Michael Jordan.
Full name: Roel Gener
Birthday: June 27, 1974
Birthplace: Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo
Position: Left/right, full back winger
Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan
At what age did you become interested in football: 3-4 years old sumisipa na ako ng football, nakapaa.
College school, course: Western Visayas College of Science and Technology in Iloilo; Machine shop technology
How did you end up playing for a national football team?
Try outs. Nasa [Philippine] Army na ako noong nag-tryout ako sa national team. Matagal na itong Azkals, 2006 pa ito. So, nandito din ako. Ngayon lang siya nag-shine.
Other sports you play aside from football?
Nagba-badminton ako, player din ako ng sepak takraw. nagtuturo ng badminton dati ... army gym...
What’s the best thing about football?
Sa football, mae-exercise mo stamina, agility, power… Lahat nandito, kami, kapag player kami ng football marunong kaming mag-basketball, marunong kaming mag-volleyball
How long are you going to play football?
Hangga’t kayo ko, hangga’t kinukuha ako ng coach ibig sabihin may tiwala pa yan. So, ibig sabihin pinaninindigan ko habang kinakaya ko. Hindi ko alam basta hanggang makaya ko all out ako sa football.
Starting June 15, abs-cbnNEWS.com will feature several members of the Philippine National football team to give local football fans a chance to get to know better their favorite Azkals players.
ABS-CBN Sports will be airing live the home and away FIFA World Cup qualifier between the Philippine Azkals and Sri Lanka on June 29 and July 23.