Forward is training hard to recover from an injury
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old. It’s in my blood.”
Simon Malaborsa reminisced about his best memories of soccer, when he used to play with his siblings in their family’s backyard in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. It was Malaborsa’s father who sparked his interest in the sport, and signed him up for it. The 22-year-old has been playing ever since.
Although he’s been a striker for the Concordia Stingers men’s soccer team for the last two seasons, he didn’t always play that position. He used to play defence and winger, sometimes even goalie, but was always most comfortable as a striker. “I used to play with people who were older than me, and that’s how I got competitive,” Malaborsa said.
“There was no way that I wasn’t going to play for the team,” Malaborsa said about being a Stinger. “I played for the college team, I played for club [teams]. Part of the experience for me is being a student-athlete.”
Malaborsa noted that, while school is important, he wouldn’t be enjoying his time at Concordia as much if he wasn’t also an athlete. “It’s part of the lifestyle,” he said.
In 2013, after graduating from LaurenHill Academy, Malaborsa played with the Dawson College Blues. In his first year there, the team went to nationals. It was a successful end to a season that had a rocky start, he recalled. In 2015, Malaborsa decided he wanted a change in atmosphere and to focus more on his grades. He transferred to Vanier and played for the Cheetahs from 2015 to 2017. At the club level, he has played with Ahuntsic, Longueuil, Outremont and Salaberry.
Originally, Malaborsa studied marketing as a full-time student at Concordia, but he didn’t like math so he switched to urban studies and urban planning. Although he is interested in the program, he doesn’t want a job in that field.
“I want [my career] to revolve around soccer. I want to do some type of coaching,” Malaborsa said. “I kind of don’t want to use my degree. I’ll have it, but I don’t want to use it. I want to go out and use my soccer. I obviously still want to play pro; I’m still pushing.”
Malaborsa works one day a week as the manager at Casey’s restaurant in Marché Central, but the rest of his time is spent at school and playing soccer.
Malaborsa usually goes to school from 9 a.m. to around 3 p.m. everyday. During this time, he trains and goes to physiotherapy for a hamstring injury he suffered a week before beginning this season. He has been injured all season but is still playing although not at his full potential, but he hopes to reach the level he wants to be at soon.
Having only played three out of nine games with the Stingers this season, Malaborsa said it has been difficult not playing the sport he loves so much. “It’s hard on the mental [side] too. [I] just have to stay positive and trust the process,” he said. “It’s easy to be distracted or depressed because you’re injured, but it’s part of the sport. You just have to work hard to get out of it.”
However, Malaborsa has a newfound appreciation for the game now that he’s spent so much time on the sidelines. “Every minute I get, I try to play the best I can.”
As a dedicated student-athlete, Malaborsa is very busy but said that prioritizing and managing his time allows him to balance everything. “Yes, you can have fun,” he said. “[But] you can have fun doing serious things—I’m having fun doing super serious things.”
Malaborsa said he had his time to go out when he was younger, and he still does go out occasionally, but that’s not why he looks forward to the weekend. “I’m looking forward to games,” he said.
Ideally, within the next three years, Malaborsa hopes to have both a degree and a professional soccer career—perhaps in the Canadian Premier League, which is expected to start in April 2019.
“I try to do whatever needs to be done,” Malaborsa said in regards to reaching his goals. “I’m sure that if you do everything that you need to be doing, and you’re positive and you’re persistent and consistent, you’re going to be getting what you want. Hard work pays off. I believe in that.”
“It always feels like I’m playing in my backyard; it’s just so familiar to me,” Malaborsa said. “No matter what stage of play, it should always be the same. You shouldn’t be nervous, you should be excited; it’s what you’ve worked for. It’s what I’ve been working for.”
Main photo by Hannah Ewen.