Name FREDDY GONZALEZ
Occupation President of Freesurf, Inc., the company behind Aloha Boardsports; striker for Loyola Meralco Sparks FC
How he makes a difference Championing an under-appreciated and misunderstood avenue to getting fit
HE's low profile like the sport he represents. No, not football. The beautiful game hasn’t been low-profile since the Azkals phenomenon elevated its popularity here. And this is no diss to this 35-year-old striker’s skills. Gonzalez matched his age in goals last year, playing against younger, supposedly fitter guys in the United Football League Division 2 — this after a five-year layoff from touching the ball.
If you don’t know, the first homegrown Filipino to ever play pro football internationally retired from competing in 2008, tired of the sport’s development. And then boom, he stuns everyone in his, um, Jordan-esque comeback.
In the days of his so-called retirement, he threw his efforts behind something else: skateboarding, a sport and art form that he’s been in love with since he was five.
Step into his office and his fervor for skateboarding and surfing is undeniable. He knows the boards by name. His shelf is stacked with skating and surfing books (plus the complete Walking Dead compilation). He lives and breathes the lifestyle that’s perceived as the realm of troublemakers. But the only trouble he’s making, really, is on the field against those who dare to stop him.
Kids come in droves to his skateboarding events, and here lies the merit in his heroism: In the digital age when teens would rather shoot selfies and chain hashtags, his is the face that unites thousands to come out with their boards, break a sweat, and socialize beyond social media.
True to form, he takes no credit. “The intention wasn’t to take [skateboarding] mainstream but to highlight the culture to everybody, that it isn’t a bad thing,” Gonzalez says. “I guess if I’m a hero, it’s just to my kids.”
We add the thousands of skateboarders and surfers to that list.