Brandon Borrello: Facing the challenges of professional football

2023 was shaping up to be one of Brandon Borrello’s most successful years until his whole world came tumbling down on November 25th when he was felled by a tackle from behind by Sydney FC hardman, Luke Brattan, in the Sydney derby.

Unbelievably, the misdemeanour by Brattan escaped any sanction from referee, Alex King, but left Borrello with a fractured foot which would exclude him from playing in the Asian Cup during January, 2024. It enforced a three-month layoff before he returned to the field with Western Sydney Wanderers.

Borrello had made several appearances for the Socceroos in 2023 and when he moved to the Wanderers in 2022/23 season after a five-year stint in Germany, his life in football had never looked brighter.

However, Borrello has not dwelled on the incident and approached his rehabilitation in a positive mindset while trying to regain the form which he exhibited before the foot injury.

Until Saturday’s derby with Sydney FC, Borrello was re-establishing his presence in the Wanderer’s frontline before he incurred a hamstring injury which saw him leave the field after 17 minutes with the prospect his season is finished.

Frustratingly for Borrello, he was sitting on the bench watching his team-mates concede defeat in the 97th minute after they missed a number of good chances on goal which should’ve paved the way for victory in the match.

However, after signing a three-year deal recently with the Wanderers, Borello can look forward to better times with the club.

In this interview with Roger Sleeman, Brandon Borello discusses his early days at Brisbane Roar, the German experience, the impact of his broken foot enforcing his omission from the Asian Cup and life at the Wanderers.

ROGER SLEEMAN

Can you relate your experience at Brisbane Roar and the main influences?

BRANDON BORRELLO

After the family moved to Brisbane in 2012, I attended the Queensland Academy of Sport and was coached and eventually drafted into the Roar National Youth League squad.

The following year, I was included in the first team squad under coach Mike Mulvey.

I was training with household names of the club including, Matt McKay, Matt Smith, Luke Devere and Thomas Broich.

Day in and day out I learned from these players and I was glad I hadn’t gone to Germany a year earlier.

Even as a senior player at the Wanderers, I have learned so much from seasoned campaigners – Ninkevic and Marcelo.

At the Roar, I was playing on the right while Broich operated from the left and I admired how he drifted with elegance like Ninkevic.

These players move so easily which is not common in our game and you pick up new tricks every day.

Their understanding of football and body movement left me with a lasting legacy.

R.S.

When you went to Germany in 2017 to play for Kaiserslautern, outline your initial experiences and what did you learn from the other clubs you played with in your five-year stay?

B.B.

You had to fight for your spot because you were taking somebody else’s food off the table so the other players weren’t your friends.  It was really cut-throat.

I had to improve my sharpness because when you lost the ball, you may not get it back until your opponents scored at the other end.

You have to take your chances which I worked hard on despite initially struggling, but in time I scored four goals and provided some assists.

I quickly realised you had to be on your toes all the time and you couldn’t afford to be lazy.

Critically, it was important to learn the language because I wasn’t South American or European. Being Australian, I wasn’t recognised so I had to communicate with my team-mates.

When I sustained a cruciate ligament rupture in my right knee in April 2018, I stayed in Germany to rehabilitate but at the end of the season, the club was relegated to the 3rd division.

At the other clubs Freiburg, Dusseldorf and Dresden, I experienced a multitude of situations which are well documented but most importantly I was living my dream playing professional football in one of the toughest environments in the world.

R.S.

What were the lessons you learned playing in Germany, particularly in improving your technique and your general approach to the game?

B.B.

If you’re fighting for a spot in the team, off the ball work is critical.

If you work early, you work less so there is the mental side of the game which has to be tuned to adopt these good habits.

Also, you need the consistency to take chances.

I worked constantly on a better first touch, dropping the shoulder before receiving the ball and improving body shape.

Borrello breaks clear of Newcastle’s Mark Natta.

R.S.

In your first season with the Wanderers in 2022/2023, you formed a great partnership with the Tunisian international, Amer Layouni.

Can you relate that experience?

B.B.

Although, he didn’t join the club till just after Christmas of 2023, Layouni was a pleasure to play with as he always knew where I would be making my runs and we formed a telepathic understanding.

In the first match he played against Adelaide United,  he scored a goal and set up mine.

He knew exactly where to be on the pitch and was a deadly finisher.

He was also a great character to have in the team but it’s hard to attract players like him from Europe due to the salary cap.

R.S.

You started the current season in a flurry before your injury against Sydney FC on November 25th.

How devastating was this for you and was Brattan lucky to get off scot free for the tackle?

B.B.

I heard the click immediately and it was a huge setback so early in the season.

However, to be out for three months with the fractured foot was not as bad as the ACL injury I experienced in Germany when I missed nine months playing.

I bore no remorse to Luke Brattan because I played with him at the Roar and he always played the way he trained.

He’s the sort of player you like to have in your team, not play against.

Brandon Borrello competes with Rhyan Grant in the Sydney Derby.

R.S.

How much did you miss playing in the Asian Cup?

B.B.

Obviously it was a huge disappointment because I’d played for the Socceroos in World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers, but not in the Final tournaments.

R.S.

People believed you were badly missed up front in the tournament due to your speed, ability to run across the lines, getting into good positions beyond defences and finishing prowess.

Your comment?

B.B.

I suppose I may have added some energy to the front third but Kasini Yengi and Mitch Duke did run their hearts out.

We had our chances against South Korea but it just didn’t happen for the team.

R.S.

How did you rate the overall performance of the squad in the tournament?

B.B.

The problem with these tournaments is the best available players are brought together but the cohesion required to succeed is often lacking because of the limited time the players have together.

Even European teams playing against Asian opponents in tournaments like this would find it hard because they fall down and bunker down in defence.

Borrello looks on for the Socceroos.

R.S.

How hard was it for you to settle back into the Wanderers squad after you returned from the injury to your foot?

B.B.

In the first three weeks, I was attempting to exert my energy with pressing and running  and had to take a few deep breaths through the game to regain my composure.

The other players were 100% match fit while I was only 95%  by this time but before the derby last Saturday, I was feeling totally confident about my general movement and fitness levels.

We had a thorough warmup before the start of the match and my hamstring injury was just one of those unfortunate events.

R.S.

A lack of consistency has been ever present in the Wanderer’s game during the last few matches, including the late losses to Brisbane Roar and the Sydney derby last weekend.

How can this be reversed?

B.B.

We need to win more personal duels to gain more possession and create more domination of games.

As the first line of defence, the strikers have to press hard on the opposing defence and as Mark Rudan has said, the team needs to follow game plans and not replicate mistakes.

Northern Suburbs and Manly Warringah Football Association representatives discuss NSW’s highest registration numbers

Football NSW has recently disclosed that the 2024 season is recording the highest number of registrations in community grassroots football.

Football NSW reported that registration numbers are up by 10% on the 2023 season with over 230,000 and counting registered members.

An important part of this increase in registration is the overall success and popularity of the Matildas and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand. This has helped spark an 18% increase in female registration, especially within the younger age groups pushing over 23% from 2023.

The Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA) CEO Kevin Johnson has supported the impact of the Women’s World Cup.

Johnson has explained that recent Female membership in the 2024 NSFA season is expanding with an 11.6% growth in female player registrations and an 11.4% increase in female team registrations.

The NSFA is one of the few associations with a Female Football Manager in Kristi Murphy.

“Kirsti has been able to coordinate enthusiasm and feedback of all the clubs into key strategies to increase the female game at an association level,” Johnson told Soccerscene.

“This structure and dedication to female development has had a huge impact on the increase of female players.”

These strategies include junior girls under 6 & 7s hubs.

“These have very important in bringing in new young players and retaining old ones, with Female Junior players increasing by 14.5% and Girls MiniRoos by 22.5%,” Johnson said.

The NSFA has focused on the association’s work in building strong connections and investment in grassroots football. The NSFA also had in 2023 an increase of 30% in sponsorship deals.

“Last year NSFA with local councils Ku-ring-gai, Willoughby and North Sydney held Live Site events for people to watch the Matildas World Cup matches with football activations alongside the matches. This project led to an increasing engagement between the community and the NSFA,” Johnson added.

“This has allowed for the development of facilities and football that is helping the 2024 season’s all-round experience.”

Kevin Johnson believes these initiatives have cemented the NSFA well on track with Football Australia’s pillar 1 in the Legacy 23 plan. which is to reach a 50/50 player gender equity in Football for 2027.

The ‘23 plan works in unison with NSFA’s objectives in making the association a successful and progressive representative of the Northern Suburbs community and Football in NSW.

Neighbouring The NSFA in The Manly Warringah Football Association (MWFA) is Karen Parsons – President of Pittwater RSL FC, who has overseen the development on the ground. The club has seen an increase of 175 registrations in 2024 to an overall 1,473 players.

In addition, the diversity of the club’s players has changed positively with females now making 43% of registrations compared to last season’s 36%.

“We knew the Matilda’s popularity would increase interest in football, therefore the club needed new strategies to encourage club engagement,” she told Soccerscene.

“The MWFA has opened up an under-7s girls league where 5 Pittwater teams now play. We also had a successful MiniRoos and MiniTillies program in February.

“Feedback from members also included the request for equal-skill-based teams in juniors. Therefore we included optional grading into the under-8s mixed comp, which on grading day had a 70% turn-out rate and positive reviews from parents.

“An academy program run by our women’s premier league coach has supported coaching and training techniques for the younger years and increased their progress in the game – also allowing promising kids extra training at lower costs.”

“Usually in before seasons there is a drop of teenagers from the 13-18 age group. However this year there has been a complete retention of 13-18-year-old participants, especially in the girl’s divisions.”

There is a solid ethos of supporting the social importance of sport in the community and approaches from all the clubs have been to maintain the engagement and encourage all to play football.

Karen spoke of the cooperation between the clubs at youth levels, making sure if the kids don’t make a team they can go to other clubs. This has retained more kids both girls and boys playing football.

“Keeping people playing football no matter what club, is always the major focus of presidents,” Parsons added.

“Outside the junior levels, the adult divisions also have had an overall jump with more All Age mixed and women’s teams created, showing this increase is not just concentrated in youth.”

The MWFA has had an overall jump of 752 more registrations from the 2023 season, currently at 19,821.

These case studies are prime examples of how all levels in community football associations are actively maintaining and developing engagement in NSW Football.

Melbourne Victory collaborate with AIA as new kit sponsor

Melbourne Victory have flexed their muscles by mitigating a timely sponsorship agreement with wellbeing entity AIA Vitality Australia (AIA) – the company logo will be featured on the front of both home and away kits for the 2023/24 Finals Series.

Victory’s talisman Bruno Fornaroli provided a first glimpse of the latest jersey on Friday. The former City striker was involved in a photoshoot with A-leagues all-time record goal scorer and current City number 9, Jamie Maclaren.

As the Australian airline Bonza Aviation entered voluntary administration, their services had become suspended at the end of last month.

The swift primary kit sponsorship agreement was made official with AIA only days prior to the Bonza Airlines collapse.

Victory’s Managing Director Caroline Carnegie discussed her excitement surrounding the newly founded sponsorship agreement on the cusp of finals football.

“AIA is a global brand that partners with some of the biggest teams in world sport and to see them featured on the front of our jerseys for the Finals Series is an exciting prospect for Melbourne Victory.

“We’re thrilled to have AIA Australia as our Principal Partner for the upcoming Finals Series,” Carnegie said.

AIA Vitality offer personalised well-being insurance, the programs on offer are scientifically endorsed and personalised to each of their clients. The main ideology of the company is their direction towards the support of a healthy lifestyle for its customers who become involved within a tailor-made program.

Carnegie also discussed the alignment of both respective entity’s.

“We have a common goal of using sport as a vehicle to lead, unite, connect and inspire, and that includes having a sharp focus on developing health and wellbeing initiatives.

“We look forward to working with AIA to heighten our ability to achieve those goals and continuing to grow our relationship and shared aspirations together.”

Damien Mu, AIA Chief of Operations discussed his exhilaration regarding the collaboration.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the powerhouse that is Melbourne Victory for a thrilling competition. We’ve been following the team’s success over the last few years and are excited to team up,” Mu said.

AIA join the sponsorship contingent that consists of La Lonica and KFC.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks

Send this to a friend