Growing up what were your interests? Have they changed or did you always have a main concept/idea in your mind that you wanted to achieve?
From a young age soccer was a massive part of my life, and something that I knew I wanted to pursue as a career. I used to play hockey a bit as well, however, that took a big back burner as soon as I was faced with the decision to pursue a career in hockey or soccer, and obviously soccer was the one. Besides sports, my interests include music, and hanging out with friends. Overall, my appreciation for soccer has grown and it continues to grow.
With soccer was there was there an end goal in mind that you wanted to play for a premier league MLS, overseas?
My end goal is to play for the premier league, however, there are definitely stepping stones to making my way up. I am prepared to take any path or route in order to achieve that end goal, even if it means taking a couple of steps back in order to move forward.
What your day to day life like? Since it may not look the same, what’s an overview of your week?
It’s pretty consistent besides changes that result from our game schedule. Usually I train every morning around 10:30am/11:00am. After training is done I would usually drive one of my friends home and grab a coffee with him. Once I’m home, I do my homework and relax. We have normatec boots that we wear for recovery, so if I’m watching some TV shows, I’ll put those on for a bit. Once it’s later on in the day, I hangout with my parents and have dinner with them. It’s generally this on repeat, with a lot of resting and recovering more than anything. When we have games out of the city, there is definitely change. At that point you train, you play and you have a lot less time on your own since you’re travelling with the team.
What sparked your interest in playing soccer, and pursuing a career to become a professional athlete?
My dad had a massive influence on me since he used to play soccer at a very high level when he was younger. Also, I would say my interest started when I was younger and I would find myself waking up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch premier soccer. Seeing those athletes go out on the field, in front of those fans, and in that atmosphere, was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of. So that’s when I asked myself, is this something that I really want to pursue? And it was something that I did want to pursue, so I said why not work hard, have a go at it, and just do it! If I think I can do it, then I’m pretty confident in myself in getting it done. It’s a matter of focusing down, and wanting to be the best every day.
How has balancing academics at Ryerson University, and your professional career as an athlete at TFC been like?
Both my parents and my sister graduated from Sir Wilfred Laurier with a business degree, which is what I’m pursuing. So a lot of the time I look to them for help. What I’ve learned is that it’s all about time management. It’s about knowing what I need to get done, especially if I’m on the road and have a test mid-week, an assignment, or even group project meeting to attend. It’s about knowing how to allocate my time correctly, when to study, and when to sacrifice being out with a friend. So it’s about being smart more than anything, being aware of what I have to do, and organizing my schedule accordingly.
What was the experience of stepping on the field for your first game signed with the TFC professional league?
It was mad! What was going through my mind that day was how Toronto FC gave me the opportunity as a young kid from Toronto, to make it big in Toronto. I was also really happy about my parents and sister being there, that was definitely really important to me. To a certain extent I felt a moment of relief like, “hey it’s here!” I told myself at the end of the day it’s just a football game and I’ve played a thousand of these so it’s nothing new. However, looking at the atmosphere and seeing the fans that paid to see us play is something that I will never take for granted. It was a really cool moment!
Who do you seek inspiration from or look up to when it comes to soccer, and in strengthening yourself as a player?
I’ll answer this question from two different perspectives. In terms of being the best person I could possibly be, I look up to my mom, my dad, my sister and my uncle. I think they’ve definitely done a great job in trying to keep my feet on the ground, and in making sure that I’m paying my dues and being a person that they all know and hopefully love. As a footballer, who is around older guys that have more experience as professional footballers, I look up to Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan. I think those guys have been massive in my development as a professional footballer, on and off the field. I owe them a lot for growing my own brand as a footballer. I spend quite a lot of time with the both of them, they both are unbelievable footballers, and are great people that I’m happy to be around all the time and learn from.
What constraints have you faced throughout your journey?
A lot of time it comes down to if you’re placed in the line-up, or if you’re not. It is also a matter of being in favour with the coach, or not. Regardless, I think it’s about believing in yourself and the work that you put in more than anything else. It’s about being able to look at yourself in the mirror, knowing how much work you’re truly putting in, and how often you’re in the gym by yourself. It’s also about telling yourself that you didn’t just put all of this work in to get this far, only to give up. What helps me push through the more mental constraints is checking in on myself, whether that be just once a month. I remind myself why I am here, what I’m doing, and why this is the one thing that makes the happiest. Overall, it’s about having a strong mentality and being able to push through small times of adversity like that.
What are the greatest achievements that you’ve accomplished and are proud of ? Why are these achievements remarkable for you?
Signing with the Toronto FC was massive to me! Being from Toronto, and being able to play for your own city is an unbelievable feeling that I don’t think many get to feel. Just knowing that you’re born and raised in the place that you’re playing is unbelievable. I’ve also been a part of the men’s national and team, and the under 20 side, where I won a couple of the events and captained. I think those are two of my favourite achievements, playing for my hometown, as well as representing my home country. Those in themselves are massive opportunities, and I’m really gracious to have being given those opportunities.
Have you experienced forms of criticism? If so, how do you deal with it and transform it into something positive?
Usually at games it is people heckling and trying to get a reaction out of you, and so you just have to laugh it off. You can’t take it seriously, you have to know that they are trying to be malicious but to a certain extent, and so you can’t be bothered by it. However, now a days, I feel like a lot of the criticism and comments are made on social media. People feel more inclined to say stuff on Twitter, or Instagram, and once again you have to be unbothered by it. If you have a bad game, people are more likely to say something about it, but then if you have a great game, everything switches on a dime and those are the same people that will congratulate you. So just use that and be unbothered by it! None of that hate will have anything to do with the personal development of your career.
What habits and ways of thinking have been key to your own personal success as professional athlete?
I think just having a driven mindset! The second that you give into the noise, you’re distracting yourself from reaching your ultimate goal. I apply this to my goal of reaching the premier league, and I believe that this is applicable to anyone else who has to take whatever steps necessary in order to achieve their goals. Once you understand that giving into the comments made by other people attempting to bring you down is just a distraction, then you won’t bother giving into it. As much as those comments might come across as bad press, it should be viewed as something that is taking your mind off of your goal, which it shouldn’t be doing. For myself personally, knowing that any distraction is not going to help me reach my final goal is enough for me to understand that it is not worth my time.
What advice would you give to a young person who intends to embark on a journey of becoming a professional athlete? But just doesn’t know where to start?
I think if they already know that they want to be a pro-footballer, then I would tell them that it’s all about giving that final push! It’s also about knowing, willing and wanting to sacrifice what may be certain moments as a young person in order to achieve the greater goal. It’s about knowing that you can’t be out late on certain nights of the week, that you can’t be doing certain things with your friends, and that discipline is required. It’s about sacrificing certain moments and spending that time on perfecting your craft, and what you do. I can assure them that the light is at the end of the tunnel, so if you’re able to keep that one track mindset, and know where you want to be and what you want to do, then all those small sacrifices are worth it.
What does Home is Toronto mean to you?
It means everything to me! If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you that I’m always talking about how Toronto is the best city in the world. Saying that this city has crafted me and the guys on the team would be an understatement. The multiculturalism, as well as the atmosphere that exists in all sporting events, is what makes us want to win, and want to succeed. The energy with every person is unbelievable. It’s a privilege to be from Toronto and and honour to represent Toronto! It’s the best city in the world!
What about the city inspires you the most?
The city in itself inspires me! When I lived in Vancouver for National Team Canada, I told all my friends that they had to visit Toronto because the city has a spot for everybody. Whether that be for the different types of food, the different kinds of music, or whatever it is. Toronto is so accommodating for everybody! It’s just so inclusive and that’s the one massive thing that inspires me. Being a part of a place that wants everyone be involved is what inspires me.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to, especially to hype you up before a game?
Before a game you’ll catch me listening to a lot of rap, and probably songs from Drake, Meek Mill, and Lil Baby. Any other day of the week I’m open to pretty much anything, it just depends on whatever the mood is, where I’m going, or what the team likes.
Any pre-game rituals?
I live near Yonge and Eglinton, so I’ll usually go for an hour long walk the morning of a game. After my walk I would grab coffee from this shop near my house called, De Mello. Also, you’ll catch me hanging around Yonge Street for a bit, and probably grabbing my pre-game meal from this butcher called, Canada Market. Then I would walk home and just hangout there.
What would you classify your personal fashion style as?
I switch up my style a lot! I wear jeans, I wear cargo pants, I wear trousers. It depends on where I’m going and what I’m feeling that particular day. I rarely wear joggers or sweatpants, it’s usually cargo, jeans or trousers. It depends on the occasion. To games, I would usually do a dress pant or a pleated pants, and go a bit more formal. If I’m on the road, cargo. If i’m just hanging out, then I’m really flexible. I’m not trying to replicate anyone, I hope it doesn't seem like I am. A lot of it just me doing me! I’m smart about what I spend it on, and stick in between my funds brackets. I’m very conscious about what I’m wearing, and making sure that I like the way I look before going out. I have to make sure I’m cozy whether I’m walking down the street, or driving to Toronto!