On Monday night, I had the pleasure of interviewing the voice of the Tijuana Xolos in English, Nate Abaurrea.
I was curious to know how Nate fell in love with “the beautiful game” of soccer.
In this profile, our readers will find out how a Northern California native has become a regional soccer voice.
We talked about many topics, some of which will not be featured in this piece, but I got the impression that he’s knowledgeable about sports and media in general.
So without further ado, here’s my interview with Nate Abaurrea:
EVT: Hi Nate, thanks for taking the time tonight. So where you’re from originally?
NA: Well, I’m from the Santa Cruz area, near the Bay Area, but specifically I’m from Watsonville.
EVT: How did you became a soccer fan?
NA: Growing up in Northern California, I was always around a lot of immigrants from Mexico and learned to love the game in a passionate way from them. I also have a British background, so you can say that I have an influence from two of the most passionate fan bases in world of soccer.
EVT: Did you only follow soccer as a kid and a teenager?
NA: No man, I love sports in general. Actually my first memory as a sports fan was watching game six of the 1995 World Series between the Braves and Indians.
EVT: Are you a fan of particular teams?
NA: (Laughs) I’m a Bay Area native man, I love the Warriors and the Giants, and I’m not a bandwagon fan. I’ve been a Warriors fan since 1996, and got my diapers changed at Candlestick watching Barry Bonds play the outfield.
EVT: You work in Tijuana obviously. Do see any similarities between soccer fans in Mexico and baseball fans in the United States?
NA: Absolutely! But I think that has something to do with the fact that in its beginning, baseball in America was meant to be the sport of the working class. If you look at the way the stadiums were built in New York, Ebbets Field, Yankee Stadium, and the Polo grounds were in the neighborhoods, which is similar to the way soccer stadiums are built in Mexico.
EVT: Now that you mention social backgrounds of fans, do you think soccer in the U.S. will ever shake its reputation of being a “suburb sport”?
NA: I hope so for sure, but to answer your question, I think it will in the next 10 years. But in order for that to happen a few things have to change.
EVT: What things need to change?
NA: Soccer fans need to understand that other sports are interesting too. Because many soccer fans in America have the habit of badmouthing baseball or basketball, as if a person can’t be a soccer and baseball or basketball fan at the same time.
EVT: What happens in Mission Valley?
NA: Man that’s a tough one. On one hand, I just want to see something built for the good of San Diego. If that’s Soccer City or a different project, then I’m all for it. I just want San Diego to shake off this reputation of being a city where nothing gets done. On the other hand, the soccer fan in me really hopes there’s a way for Soccer City to work.
EVT: Where do you want to see U.S. Soccer in 10 years?
NA: Winning the World Cup of course (Laughs). Actually I want soccer to be in the inner city in the next decade. Making a difference in people’s lives like it does in so many countries around the world.
I personally want to thank Nate for taking the time and being kind enough to give EVT honest answers to very difficult questions.
There’s no doubt in my mind that people like Nate Abaurrea are the people who American soccer need in order to take steps into the mainstream of American sports culture.