Energy’s Commentator Keeps It Candid

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Energy’s Commentator Keeps It Candid
English-born Mo Boreham lends his voice to Oklahoma City’s soccer team

By Tim Farley

For all practical purposes, English-born Mo Boreham fought his way out of the baby crib kicking a soccer ball.

Boreham has played, coached or trained others on two continents to play the world’s most popular sport during the last six decades. Now, he’s not doing any of that. Instead, Boreham has moved off the field and into the radio broadcast booth as the color commentator for all OKC Energy FC games. He partners with play-by-play announcer Jack Damrill, who is a nationally-licensed referee, as the team’s dynamic broadcast duo.

Like players and coaches, color commentators have their own set of challenges. For Boreham, he had to eliminate foul language – which is almost a requirement in the pro soccer ranks. He also had to remember he’s a broadcaster and no longer a coach.

“Swearing is almost like a second language in football. I had to be aware of not saying the F-bomb. You just can’t do that on the radio,” Boreham said. “I also had to remember I’m on the radio and not on the sideline as a coach. I would get so involved in the game that afterwards Jack and I would talk and he would point some things out to me.”

Although he works for Energy FC, Boreham remains candid in his analysis of the team’s performances.

“I say it as I see it,” he said. “I can’t avoid being truthful even if the Energy players mess up. I’m quite happy with being honest, although I do lace that honesty with some diplomacy.”

Boreham is discovering that his foray into broadcasting is reaping some rewards.

“Without boasting, people are saying they love my comments,” he said. “I try to throw some humor in there too and be a little bit funny,” he said, with a smile.

But it’s not just game days when Boreham and Damrill are busy. There’s plenty of prep work and interviews with players ahead of the matches. There’s also the midweek radio show that features head coach Jimmy Nielsen and two players.

“It’s not something you can just go in and chat. You have to know the players, talk to them during the week and be able to discuss different philosophies of football,” he said.

Appreciating the game
As a European player who later coached in the United States, Boreham contends many American soccer fans don’t have a complete understanding of the game. American sports fans want touchdowns or baskets, and lots of them. That isn’t the case in soccer.

Sometimes, there won’t be a goal the entire game, but I can appreciate that from a tactical point of view. Those nil-nil matches can be fabulous. Don’t get me wrong. I like to see goals, but I can also enjoy the zero-zero game as well. A soccer purist can enjoy the game because of the skill that has been shown,” he said.

Educating the casual American soccer fan about the game and some of its terminology is one of Boreham’s goals, and the radio broadcasts provide him the perfect forum.

For instance, cleats or studs are known as rubbers in the rest of the world. In addition, American cleats are boots elsewhere and the field is really the pitch.

“The biggest thing American fans have to realize is players who are out there are on their own for 45 minutes. There are no timeouts like in your football or basketball,” Boreham said.

While Boreham obviously is a soccer purist, his two grown sons – Keith and Gary – are avid football and basketball fans.

“They’ll be talking about this NFL player or that NBA player and it drives me ape—-,” Boreham said, with a laugh. “They’re a bit of a Philistine.”

Playing days
Boreham was picked up by an England pro team at age 14, but he knew the long road ahead.

“Eighty percent are let go, but the beauty of English soccer is those 80 percent can move into the semi-pro leagues. There, you get $50 in boot money under the table. If you’re a top player on an amateur side, you could get 200 pounds a week,” he recalled.

Finally, at age 28 Boreham realized he wouldn’t become a world-class player so he turned to coaching.

“I went through me licenses in England and started managing a team called Wembley Town and made myself a player-coach. It took only six months to figure out that was a mistake,” he said.

Through the years, Boreham coached at London’s Center of Excellence soccer academy and later at several North American soccer camps. After arriving in the U.S. in 1991, Boreham coached in large cities like New York, San Francisco and Dallas. He moved to Oklahoma in 1991 after being hired as director of coaching at Frontier Country Soccer Association.

Over the years, he’s also led coaches’ clinics, which he believes can be more productive than coaching one group of players.

“If I can coach 20 lads who are coaches and they’ve got 10 kids each then I’ve impacted 200 players. That’s better than if I coached just one team,” he said.

But for now, Boreham’s job takes him off the field and into a higher place – literally.

“I love being in the press box. I love the radio. It’s a new lease on life. I love meeting people and love talking to people,” he said.

That, by itself, makes his new job a lot easier.

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