Mark Torcaso on life as Philippines women’s national team head coach

Mark Torcaso weighed in on his current tenure as an international head coach, with the Melbournian currently in command of the Philippines women’s national team.


His rise to coaching acclaim has been quite the journey. As a former player across Victoria, his first off-field role eventuated in 2001, becoming the Director of Football at St. Monica’s College Epping. His first senior position arrived in 2009, where he would manage the women’s team at Bundoora United FC. The late 2000s and early 2010s mirror the current busy schedule that the Monacan possesses.

Between 2009-2012 Torcaso managed the FFA Futsal Championship Youth Girls side. Within a similar timeframe, Torcaso also acted as a goalkeeper coach for both Melbourne Victory, and the Australian international women’s.

Calder United acquired his services in 2016 as their Senior Director of Football. Throughout his ongoing tenure, the Keilor-based contingent has basked in success. They won their maiden NPL Women’s title in 2016 while claiming its first Nike F.C. Cup the year later. Since their initial cup win in 2017, United went on to retain the trophy in five consecutive editions of the competition. The fruitful spell influenced by Torcaso did not go unnoticed as he would land his first major coaching contract with Western United’s Women’s side in 2020.

Attributing his current position to his past, Torcaso provided insight to the moment he found out he was becoming an international coach.

“It was a phone call late on a Friday evening, that I honestly didn’t believe was real. I sat there and said to my wife that I had just been offered the Philippines National team job,” he said.

“We were speechless. I returned the phone call and within a few days I was on a plane to Sydney to finalise the contract.”

Since being in the driver’s seat for the Philippines national side, Torcaso delved into his greatest recent memories.

“So far in our short time we have been lucky enough to play and compete in some brilliant games of football,” he said.

“I would say making the quarter finals in the Asian games was a huge moment, as well as playing in front of 60,000 people in Perth for an Olympic qualifier – although the result wasn’t great.

“Another really pleasing thing is seeing this team constantly grow. Each window we have, we are constantly getting better and better with how we want to play and want we want out of it.”

Furthermore, Torcaso opened up on the perception of football in the Philippines.

“Having been born and raised in a country like Australia where our number one sport isn’t a worldwide one, and then seeing how sports like football and basketball are massive in a country like Philippines makes me see that our game, the world game, is truly global,” he said.

“The Philippines is a highly populated country and has so many more around the world. The game is always evolving and with so many Filipinos migrating abroad, they are still so proud of their motherland, or their connection to it from a parent or grandparent. They are passionate people, but are also very understanding.

“They are peaceful, and very connected to their culture and religion. The game can grow, and needs to grow, which should be the case in every country.

“No country in the world should stay stagnant, especially in football. Everything around us is moving too quickly, and if you don’t keep up or stay on top of it, you will fall behind.”

Finally, when asked if Australia could perhaps take a leaf out of the Philippines book in terms of gaining an advantage within the sport, Torcaso described that every country should learn from others as much as possible.

“Not any country is perfect, but many have ways that can help each other,” he said.

“The one thing I can say about the Philippines and football as a whole is that there are many places to play and opportunities for it.

“As the Philippines have such a huge population abroad, they take full advantage of that. It doesn’t matter if you’re half or not born there – if you have it in your blood, then you’re Filipino. That is so powerful. Filipinos are very proud of their country, no matter what.”

WOW HYDRATE and Manchester United’s ‘Red Cherry’ drink aligned with mutual values

WOW HYDRATE launched its first-ever co-created ‘Red Cherry’ flavoured drink, working alongside one of the world’s biggest football clubs – demonstrating the shared mission of the two organisations that started with a multi-year global sponsorship from November last year.

WOW HYDRATE is a sports drink brand influencing the future of sports and fitness hydration, through its health benefits in the products.

Their range contains drinks with four essential electrolytes and vitamins B6, C & D – while also being sugar, fat and gluten free.

England and Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire is a brand ambassador for WOW HYDRATE, who also partner with world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, UK boxing promotion company BOXXER, West Ham United Women’s team, rugby club Castleford Tigers and Essex Cricket.

At the heart of these collaborations is WOW HYDRATE Managing Director Queenie Porter, who shared how the new ‘Red Cherry’ drink came about.

Harry Maguire is an ambassador from Manchester United.

“We had a board meeting last summer and we have some great individual ambassadors while also prominent in the world of boxing, so we asked how can we take the next step,” she told Soccerscene.

“We were wondering how we can resonate with the sport world and touch base with the consumer.

“When looking at football clubs, the number one priority was Manchester United because they are the biggest in the world.

“It was a mutual connection because they were looking for a hydration partner, and we were of course looking for a football club. The deal happened so quickly not in a rush, but because our values aligned so well – Manchester United are fan first, whereas we are consumer first.

“The way that Manchester United run their business is like one big family – from a receptionist all the way up to CEO.

“Both of us operate in the same manner and we just clicked as a result.”

While the sports drinks are prominent in UK-based Tesco stores, we will expect to see a greater expansion in the near future.

Porter shared what we can look forward to.

“We are planning to rollout WOW HYDRATE into 600 Woolworths stores in Australia from late April this year,” she said.

“It adds to our existing reach in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, while this year will also see the push into Europe including Spain and France – while we’ll also enter the United States towards the backend of 2024.

“We want to ensure that everything will be aligned and Manchester United will be a key part of that – whenever we venture somewhere new, the Club will be involved in the launch.”

Porter on the touchline of Old Trafford with the ‘Red Cherry’ drink.

In her role, Porter is passionate about getting the very best out of women’s sport.

Rather than competing, she sees it from a different lens when assessing fan demographics.

“Naturally I’m really passionate about women’s sport, particularly in football,” she said.

“What I want to use my platform for is to support the women’s game in its own identity.

“There’s a lot around people wanting to make the men’s and women’s game equal, but I just want to focus on making the women’s game the best it can be in its own standing.

“It brings in a much more family audience, so from a brand perspective you can tap into what you otherwise would not have before.

“Women have different needs to men such as in recovery, so I want to ensure that women have the support there.

“For example with ACL injuries, our protein drink is one of the best ways to recover white muscle tissues.”

Porter with the Manchester United home shirt.

A key orchestrator of the collaboration was Victoria Timpson, Manchester United’s CEO of Alliances and Partnerships.

The Red Devils will support WOW HYDRATE in promoting all the benefits they offer.

“We are very proud to have welcomed WOW HYDRATE as Manchester United’s official sports hydration partner and excited to work with the brand on educating our fans on the importance of hydration and the science behind its products,” she said exclusively to Soccerscene.

“WOW HYDRATE’s ability to work with the club to collaborate on the dual branded Red Cherry hydration drink and make it available to our fans within months of announcing the partnership, demonstrates its strong position within the global market. WOW HYDRATE has been well received by our fans and we look forward to building on this throughout the partnership.”

WOW HYDRATE’s health benefits in its drinks allow a club like Manchester United to rest and recover from strenuous schedules including the Premier League and European competition.

The household name that is Manchester United, coupled with international expansion, makes WOW HYDRATE a name that’s one to watch.

For full details and its products, you can view WOW HYDRATE’s website here.

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.

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