Borja Díaz: “When you move abroad you realise how vital languages are.”

Having worked together for five years at Movistar Inter Fútbol Sala, Onuba Comms’ co-founder Miguel Ángel Fernández was delighted to be able to catch up with Spain international Borja Díaz – mere months into his new adventure in the State of Kuwait. First impressions of his new home, the challenges ahead – on and off the court, and his determination to learn English were all on the agenda in this exclusive interview.

[Haz clic aquí para leer la entrevista en español] 

Now 31, Borja Díaz, who hails from Morata de Tajuña, Madrid, has fulfilled yet another of his career goals as a pro futsal player, with the Spain ‘ala’ drawing a line under a trophy-packed decade at Movistar Inter to sign on the dotted line for Kuwaiti club Al-Arabi. Quite the change in direction from a player known for his elusiveness on the court but a very positive one so far, with Borja leaping at the chance to leave his comfort zone and tackle an exciting new challenge.

Onuba Comms: How did your move to Kuwait come about and what are your first impressions?

Borja Díaz: I’ve always wanted to experience life abroad and, with that in mind, I’d been speaking to a Spanish coach [Editor’s note: Félix Pellicena] who’s been here for a few years. It was through him that I nearly came here two years ago, before renewing my contract at Inter. After signing that new contract I put it [moving abroad] to one side, but it remained something I was interested in doing. And finally, last year the chance came up again and I didn’t think twice, because it was a new experience in a different country.

Above: Borja celebrating victory in the 2018 UEFA Futsal Cup, one of 18 (!!) trophies won during his time at Movistar Inter. Photo © of Sportsfile.

OC: After winning every trophy there is to win with Movistar Inter, you’re now facing a new and very different challenge. What are your main objectives?

BD: On a personal level, I want to make this a unique experience, learn as much as I can about other cultures and meet new people. In sporting terms, I come from a club where we won everything and it’s hard to shift that mindset and ‘DNA’. My aim is to win every title available, even though there’s another team [Editor’s note: Kuwait Sports Club] that has been champions in recent years.

OC: What’s day-to-day life like at your new club?

BD: Here there’s an element of separation between the professional players, such as myself and the team’s two Serbian players, with the domestic players. We’ve got our own fitness coach and in the morning we go to the gym and then we train every evening. Here the ‘weekend’ is Friday and Saturday and we play our league matches on Thursdays. For that reason Fridays are our rest day and we train Saturday to Wednesday. The good thing about here is I get to enjoy more time with my wife and newborn daughter.

OC: How have you found the standard of futsal in the Kuwait? How much did you know about the league beforehand?

BD: It’s been a very pleasant surprise. When you see a league that’s so far away, you can’t help but think the standard will be a bit lower than in the Spanish league. And to tell the truth, that is the case, but in terms of physicality and competitiveness I’d say it’s even more fierce than in Spain. Here what they lack in tactical and technical ability they make up for with physicality, aggression and competitiveness. The first few friendly matches I played weren’t very ‘friendly’, it felt like you were in a league title decider! [Laughs]. We’ve just played one league match so far [Editor’s note: a 3-1 loss to reigning champs Kuwait Sports Club] but all the games I’ve watched so far have been incredible.

OC: Let’s talk about the three futsal competitions in Kuwait, what format do they follow?

BD: The league format here is the following: there are nine teams, everybody plays each other twice and we all use the same arena. Then there’s a play-off for the title, similar to the one in Spain. Then there’s the Kuwait Cup: the teams are split into two groups, everyone plays each other and the top two in each group qualify for a final four – with semi-finals and a final. And the third competition is the Emir’s Cup, similar to the Copa del Rey in Spain, which is a knockout tournament, pure and simple. So they’re similar to Spain, but with small differences.

OC: Albeit now from a distance, you’ve maintained your links with Spain and are involved in various projects. Could you tell us more about them?

BD: I’m in Kuwait now and hoping to spend a number of years here, but it won’t be forever and so I’ve stayed link to Spain and the projects I started up a few years ago. I’ve got a gym and two futsal clubs in Morata and Perales, which are hugely important to me and what I feel most proud and happy about. We’ve now got more than 130 kids and we’re genuinely really pleased [with how it’s going]. I’ve left them in very good hands. I’m trying to be as involved as I can, despite the distance, and keep on top of things. We need to keep doing the right things, keep growing and making the most of these experiences abroad to pick up new ideas to potentially implement in Spain later.

OC: As translation experts, we have to ask you about the importance of languages. Particularly since you’ve travelled the world as a futsal player and are living outside Spain for the first time.

BD: They’re incredibly important! One of the main reasons I wanted to play abroad was because I wanted to learn English. Once you move abroad you soon realise how fundamental it is. Here I have to speak English all the time, I only speak Spanish with my wife and when I call family back home. I think this kind of ‘jumping in at the deep end’ is a great way of learning English. I’ve been here for two months and I’m not fluent yet, but I’m starting to understand everything and coming out with more phrases, so it’s something I’m very happy about.

Above: Borja with Onuba Comms co-founder Miguel Ángel Fernández and Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone.

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee in question only.

Experts in sports translation and only using the best native-language translators, editors and copywriters, we at @onubacomms believe everyone in sport should have the opportunity to connect with their global audience. Mail now for a free, no-obligation quote.

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