SAN PABLO CITY - Raising the San Pableño pride, Philippine Azkals’ John Albert “Jojo” Frias visited February 11 Dalubhasaan ng Lunsod ng San Pablo (DLSP) after trouncing the Mongolians in a pre-qualifying match two days before at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Of San Pablo descent, Jojo Frias was born to both Filipino nationals. His father is Abel Villapando Frias and his mother, former Aileen Lyle Dumaraos, daughter of DLSP’s vice president for administration, Dr. Benilda Dumaraos, of Barangay San Buenaventura (Palakpakin), this city.
Born in Torino, Italy on July 27, 1994, Frias who stands 5’6”, studied in his birthplace from preschool to the present. He is presently taking up mechanical engineering course at Instituto Galilei in Italy. He is the youngest of five siblings.
He started playing football in Italy at the age of nine along with an “inspirational buddy” named Dexter Ronaldo, a Portuguese.
At 16, Frias is the youngest of the Philippine team of 30 members. He got a slot to the Azkals after a series of try-outs. He plays in the middle light left position.
He learned about the Azkals when he chanced upon it on a news report in The Filipino Channel (TFC) in Italy. He asked his mother to contact the relatives in San Pablo to get the contact numbers of the Philippine team so he can inquire about the try-out. And the rest is history.
“I am proud,” his mother beamed, “18 ang nagtry-out, siya yung nakasama. Natutuwa ako. Sana magtuloy-tuloy siya.”
When asked how he balances his studies and his sports, his mother answered for him. “Papasok sya ng 7 ng umaga, lalabas ng 12 ng hapon. Tapos 7-9 ng gabi ang practice, so, hindi conflict. Private school naman.”
Frias answered when asked what football was to him and how joining the Azkals changed him, “Yun ang gusto ko maging kapag malaki na ako.” And “mayroong fans.”
His mother also added that when it comes to his personality, “Nakakatulong sa pagdevelop ng confidence, mahiyain pa rin konti.”
The young player speaks fluent Italian and Tagalog, the latter language he uses in communicating to his other teammates aside from English.
Commenting on the Azkals team and the Younghusband brothers, the star players of the team, he smiled and said, “Mabait!”
He did not play in the Bacolod match against the Mongolians since he was the most recently signed in to the Philippine team, but said he was very happy with the game outcome. He looks forward to see action in future games of the Azkals.
Frias will be with the Azkals’ training in Baguio for a game in Mongolia. They are also preparing for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in November 11. (DLSP/Abigail Joy A. Alvero)