Homegrown junior booters eye Europe berth

After their training camp in Barcelona, Cebuanos Josh Garces and Ethan Roxas want to compete in Europe when they grow up

Beatrice Go

12:41:55pm September 8, 2018

12:41:55pm September 8, 2018

BIG DREAMERS. Josh Garces (left) and Ethan Roxas return home from Barcelona with dreams of playing football in Europe. Photo by Beatrice Go/Rappler

BIG DREAMERS. Josh Garces (left) and Ethan Roxas return home from Barcelona with dreams of playing football in Europe. Photo by Beatrice Go/Rappler

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Milo-FC Barcelona training camp graduates Josh Garces and Ethan Roxas from Cebu share the same dream of playing professional football in Europe after they got to experience the Spanish training camp in 2017. 

But both may consider playing for the Philippine Azkals first. 

"When I’m older, Azkals then hopefully, I could go like Europe. That’s my goal – Europe," said Roxas. 

"I hope to play for the national team but like Ethan, I also want to play in Europe," added Garces. 

Roxas, 11, and Garces, 13, were two of the nine junior booters who had the rare chance to watch Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and the rest of the Barca team compete live twice. 

"[We plan to work on] our skill by like playing a lot because there might be scouts," Roxas said of his future plan to be among the country's best. 

As the two Cebu regional team members look to impress scouts around national competitions such as the Palarong Pambansa, they hope to follow the footsteps of Liloan native Ray Anthony Jonsson. 

The Filipino-Icelandic footballer spent most of his youth and senior career in Iceland before capping for the Philippine Azkals in 2010. 

Jordi Aguilar and Albert Batalla, who are among the 2018 Milo-FC Barcelona coaches, were thrilled to hear the young Filipino booters' big dreams, but they advise them to stay grounded and enjoy the sport while they're young. 

"The most important thing is to keep training, improve a lot and enjoy because if you enjoy your sport or your work, there are more possibilities to grow in this world," said Batalla. 

"Maybe one day you can go out and play in Europe, but you don’t have to put that pressure on them," added Aguilar. 

For now, these big dreamers will continue learning the game with their new-found values from their trip to Barcelona last year. – Rappler.com