Article By JASER A. MARASIGAN
Photos by PAOLO SY
Styled by JP DICHE
Grooming by MAGIC JIMENEZ
Hair by DAVE GRONA
Clothes and Accessories from BENCH
MANILA, Philippines — Growing up it was clear to Filipino-Scottish midfielder and striker Mark McMahon what he wanted to do in life — to play for the Philippine National Football Team.
For every kid that plays football, it is a childhood dream for them to be a professional football player, says Mark.
“I realized that I was good at it when people started telling me. Even my father said so. He used to play for the youth team as well. Going pro has always been a dream.
But only some achieve their dreams because they worked hard for it and dedicated themselves to it, and that’s what I intend to do,” says Mark who started playing when he was 11 years old, and quickly developed a high level skill of the game.
And so after representing the youth football team of Scotland from which he gained enough experience, exposure and skills, the 20-year-old Mark felt that it was time to go back to the Philippines and play for his home country.
“I guess it’s the Filipino in me calling. It’s always good to represent your own country. It’s a big deal. I want to be a part of this because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the Philippines,” Mark says.
Earlier this year, Mark had contacted the Azkals through Facebook after reading that the Philippine team was looking for foreign-based players.
“I thought I had a chance to go to the Philippine National Footbal l Team and probably it won’t be that tough to get in because it is still developing. So I flew in, trained and tried out.
I went to the training camp in Bacolod where I played friendly games. It is an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. It is something I want to do, really badly,” relates the semi-professional player for the Scottish club Loreburn Thistle Football Club.
Aside from training for the Azkals, Mark is also a member of the Internacionale Football Club, which plays for the United Football League-Philippines.
Mark came from humble beginnings. He was born in Siargao, Surigao del Norte to a Filipino mother and Scottish father. When the family moved to Glasgow, Scotland, that was when he discovered his love for football.
Since his father is a huge football fan, they would always watch the games together on TV, most especially when matches of Real Madrid or Manchester United were on.
“Football was always on TV and there was always news of people transferring and how much money they earned just to play football. And it’s ridiculous how much money is involved. It’s a sport but also it’s a business. So I thought I want to take this path, be serious and focus on it,” says Mark.
It is important to start in football when you’re a kid, he admonishes.
“Try to learn things while you’re younger, that’s the most important thing to do. Not when you’re older. Learn everything while you’re young,” says Mark, who gives as much importance to his studies having recently graduated with a Sports and Recreation Management degree from the Dumfries and Galloway College.
Aside from his father, Mark names Real Madrid’s top winger, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, as his idol.
“It was his drive and his love for the game that got Cristiano Ronaldo to where he is today. He is skillful and entertaining. I like players that entertain fans also not just play football. He’s unique, he’s different. When he gets the ball, everyone is always excited because he’s going to do something special and spectacular. He wanted to be the best player in the world when he was young and now he’s achieved that,” says Mark of his idol.
When out in the field, Mark likewise manages to stand out in the field with his good looks and physique, so it is no surprise that he has recently crossed over to modeling and acting.
“I always like to do everything, learn new experiences. I find it a challenge because you’re not going to be the best at it just like that. It’s a challenge to improve and make a name for yourself. I remember my family would always tell me, maybe you should try acting or modeling too, because here they like those who have mixed races,” he muses.
Mark was discovered by Elite Modeling Agency in a mall, and not long after, he already got booked for a number of TV and print advertisements, including an endorsement for Bench. He also starred in his first movie, GMA Films’ youth-oriented movie “Tween Academy: Class of 2012”. He recently signed up as one of the newest young talents of GMA Artist Center.
“Opportunities are coming in so fast, and these things I can’t miss. Learning acting is quite a challenge, doing it in front of the camera where people are going to watch you.
It would also be a challenge to make a name for myself in showbiz, modeling and sports. Let’s see how things are going to play out,” he continues, adding that his advantage from among the other Filipino-foreigners pursuing an acting career here is he can speak good Filipino.
“Growing up, my mom would speak to me in Visayan and Tagalog even in Scotland. My dad also loves the Philippines. I eat a lot of Filipino food like isaw and kinilaw. I was taught to say po and opo,” he shares.
Dealing with homesickness is the most difficult among the challenges that he is encountering now that he is living here.
“Being independent is a good experience. I feel like a grown-up. I’ve been here a couple of times for a vacation but this is the longest time that I’ve been away from the family, and it is actually quite harder than I expected. But at the same time, it feels good to support myself, and making money for the family if in case they need anything.”
Mark has no plans of leaving football, even if he is also getting work elsewhere, like modeling and acting, to sustain himself.
“Right now I plan on living here all my life because I want to do well here. But I definitely won’t give up playing football over showbiz. I also hope to coach a football team in the future. I don’t have the qualifications and the experience of coaching yet, maybe I’ll get into that at some point,” he relates.
For aspiring football players, Mark advises them to build their confidence first and foremost. “Keep watching football, keep practicing, and keep fit. If you’re fit, confidence comes in.
You need to have confidence to be what to want to be. Without confidence, you won’t improve. Idolize someone like Ronaldo or the Younghusbands. If you want to be like them, follow what they say. Listen to your coaches. Everyone wants to be their idol. You may follow the path that they did, but it is always better to do your own path,” he ends.
Special thanks to Students and Campuses for the Photos
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Article from mb.com.ph
Philippine Sports Commission,
De La Salle University- Office of Sports Development,
Lawrence Cua, Leonard Sy,
Sharon Trinidad of Elite Model Management Manila