Royal Blues’ Javier Funes a Taiwan Premier League Goal Monster

We managed to catch up with Royal Blues striker and Taiwan Premier League regular goal scorer Javi Funes this week to ask him a few questions regarding his time spent playing football in Taiwan. We asked about his thoughts on the league and the league’s future as well as his own.

When you first arrived in Taiwan, you started playing football in the local expat league – the OTPL. From there you moved to Taiwan’s Premier League with Royal Blues. How do these leagues compare?

The OTPL is a great league to make friends and have fun, the Premier League is different. Not only is the level higher but also players are fitter. The level of commitment required to compete in the Taiwan Premier League is also higher, you will find yourself training several times a week and playing eight games a month sometimes. It is not that easy when you have work or studies going on as well.

Each season you have often finished at the top end of the goalscorers chart, have you ever thought about moving to one of the leagues two professional teams – Taipower or Datong?

Hahaha... for that I would have to try to make football my full-time profession to make it really work and make it a priority in my life, something that I don’t plan to do. I enjoy playing for the Royal Blues, I have been playing with the team for a couple of years already and can’t see myself playing somewhere else.

As you are from Honduras, how do you think the leagues here compare to the ones back home?

Football is really important in Honduras and although there is a long way to go, professional football is very developed. The players there are very good as well, there is a lot of talent being missed due to the lack of opportunities, it is very difficult to “make it” back in my country.

How has the Taiwan Premier league developed over your time playing in the league?

There have been many small steps towards developing the league, the FA have started to subsidise some of the club’s expenses which is good, especially for teams like Royal Blues that do not have a university or a massive corporation to support the team. Having said this, I believe the more important issues are still not being addressed, I know it takes time to build a structure but the work has to be done.

Do you think Taiwan will ever have a professional league in the future?

I can see that happening in a non-distant future, the government needs to start investing more in football development. It would be great to see the private sector pitching in as well.

Do you think the league will ever generate more general public interest than it currently does now?

It will over time…every time I see more and more kids walking around in football jerseys, they will eventually start being more interested in the National Team and hopefully, this interest will move onto the league. For this to happen some changes have to be made, more marketing, more PR, set the games on weekends and use the beautiful venues that are already there like Taipei Arena and Kaoshiung World Games Stadium.

Who is the most difficult opponent you have played against?

It is really hard to say, the league has many great players, as a striker I have to face defenders, so if I have to say who is the hardest defender to play against I would say Taipower's and the National Team’s captain (when Chen Po-Liang isn’t playing) whose name I have forgot.

What are your aims for the new season?

Help the team make it to the playoffs (the top 4 teams in the Taiwan Premier League playoff to see who is the overall winner 1st vs 2nd for the champion and 3rd vs 4th for 3rd place), I believe in this team and the potential it has. Last season we proved our potential but we were affected by many factors that were out of our hands and this damaged our position in the table. For this season we are getting better prepared to attain our objectives.

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