Goals can change over time. For Fil-British soccer star Graham Caygill, goals became less literal in the past year what with his decision to quit local football team Loyola Meralco Sparks and trade “the beautiful game” for an arena that straight up celebrates beauty. As the new host of sporting and lifestyle show Gameplan, he’s exploring far beyond the limiting perimeter of a football field.
From hiking the country’s best peaks to diving its clearest waters for the show, travelgrams with buddy Phil Younghusband and a recent shoot for Bench Body exhibit the host’s irrepressible need to push boundaries and tread new territory. BENCH BLOG sat down with Graham to talk about his roots in travel, his famous pink swim trunks, and why he doesn’t need his own Posh to validate him.
It wasn’t so long ago that you quit the Loyola Meralco Sparks was it?
I came [to the Philippines] two years ago to play professional football. I was playing semi-professional football in England and I needed somewhere to train, so I contacted Meralco Sparks and I just trained with them. And then when I got back to England, they offered me a contract. I did 18 months with Meralco Sparks and then I decided to end my contract in December 2015. I got a few injuries and it just wasn’t working for me. There’s just so many reasons why I finished. I’m not saying I’m never gonna go back. I’ve had offers since then to go back to football but I’m enjoying what I’m doing now. Maybe in the future, I’ll go back. I’m only 25, after all.
You look pretty much at home in entertainment. How did all that start anyway?
When I made the decision to finish with football, the next day, I did a fashion show. I did a Randy Ortiz show just as a favor to him but he also wanted me for his online store. From there, a few people saw me and they wanted me for their projects also.
I think it’s also ‘cause you gained such a big social media following in the past year or so.
Yeah, I’m friends with Kris Aquino. We met at an event and she’s friends with one of my close friends, Phil Younghusband. She posted a picture of me and invited me to the show. I got quite a few followers from there.
And what posts have you discovered really do well for you since then?
It’s the Philippines so selfies and things like that. People don’t really press like if I take a picture of my food or what I really care about.
You seem pretty playful on social media.
I like to mess around, especially when my mum’s in the Philippines, I like to mess around with her. She’s still based over in England but she still comes here quite a few times a year. She’s in Yorkshire. It’s four hours north of London but she originates from Nasipit in Mindanao.
You used to visit the Philippines when you were a kid, didn’t you?
We came always for vacation but not so much to Manila. It was always Cebu and Mindanao. It’s a massive culture shock but because I grew up with a Filipino mum and I’ve come to the Philippines so many times, it wasn’t too bad. The only thing I missed was my family and friends. I came here in March last year and I was here for a few months. When the season finished, I went back home in September really homesick, but when I came back, I was fine. I haven’t been homesick since.
I think it helps to have a friend like Phil Younghusband since you both come from the same background.
Exactly the same. We’ve been laughing at the same jokes. His mum’s Filipino, my mum’s Filipino; his dad’s English, my dad’s English. We’ve got so much in common that we just laugh about the differences between our mum and dad and the culture. Filipino mums, all the little things that they do.
What do you, Phil, and all your expat buddies like to do during your downtime? Do you guys grab a couple pints?
We’ve been on trips together, we’ve been to Cebu together in Holy Week. We’re not really bothered about going to the pub. We just go to [Phil’s] house, watch football, and then we drink English tea. And James [Younghusband] also comes. We have biscuits with our tea. There’s one time I cooked shepherd’s pie for everyone, for the English guys. Phil eats all Filipino stuff—his yaya makes him adobo and inasal, everything.
And how does British food compare to the Filipino stuff?
I like both! Since moving here, I’ve really started liking Filipino food more. Back in England, my mum would only cook adobo and pancit. But when I came here, I discovered inasal, pinakbet, gising-gising, so I love eating all that stuff.
Was getting into hosting easy?
It was a hard transition ‘cause I’m not used to being in front of the camera. I like to talk to people and I’m friendly and stuff like that but I’ve never really performed for a camera. But I went to the agency quite a few times and practiced hosting, so since then, I’ve just gotten more comfortable. Also, my business back in England was to take people on tours in the UK so I’m used to talking in front of people but in front of the camera, it’s different.
Tell us about the tours. Which ground did you cover?
When I was doing it, we were going to England, Scotland, and Wales, so all the tours would start in London, then we’d go to Stonehenge, Bath, Cardiff, Wales, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York…we went to so many places in seven days. It’s a really fun thing to do. We’d go around, we were the drivers, the guides, and in charge of everyone’s safety. It’s a family business.
In terms of a city, my favorite city in the UK is Edinburgh. It’s got a beautiful castle—it’s like an old town and a new town. And the castle overlooks the old town. Every August, there’s a festival for street farmers. That’s my favorite place for a city but outdoors, I really love Wales—the valleys and the fields and that kind of thing. It’s so beautiful.
What about here?
I don’t know many places here that’s why it’s really good with Gameplan ‘cause they’re gonna take me places and we’re gonna cover so many places I’ve never heard of. We’ve got a Whatsapp group so myself and the two other hosts, we always say, “Can we do this? Can we do that?” I sent them a video of a free diver who can hold his breath for seven minutes, dive down, and catch fish, and pretty much walk underwater. I watched it on a documentary in the UK and he’s Filipino. It made me so proud, watching it in England.
Any amazing experiences you’ve had traveling here?
I went to Cebu with Phil last Holy Week. It was so fun, we went to see the butandings, the waterfalls, we went to Plantation Bay, so it was all really fun stuff.
And of course, the photo of you in pink shorts was what your followers loved about that trip.
(Laughs) Yeah, Phil gave me some crap for that. I don’t care. The more colorful, the better. I don’t really like wearing white, black, gray. I want to wear vibrant colors. I’ll wear pink, blue, red…
Are you aware that there’s a whole blog post about those pink shorts?
Yeah, there’s so much stuff…the first one that they posted on Fast Break was I was drinking a tea. That’s the most mundane thing ever. When I first came over and people wanted to start taking pictures after games, I was like, “Are you sure?” I thought it was kind of weird, but you get used to it. Especially as a footballer, a lot of people write stuff about you good and bad, so you just take it. If you have a bad game, you talk about it; if you have a good game, you talk about it.
You are also following in a long line of footballers that have become sex symbols.
(Laughs) I haven’t had anyone call me that before. What Beckham’s done with his career is amazing.
And you don’t mind something like that happening to you?
No, I’d love that. He’s such a good person, he’s done so much for charities, and he’s just a really good model.
And would you say you’re looking for your own Posh, as well?
No. I like a regular girl that’s not in the spotlight (Laughs).
Does homesickness ever get to you these days?
When I first came here, I just split with my girlfriend, came here to start a new life, left all my friends and family behind, and I was homesick for three months. Went back to England, saw that I wasn’t missing anything, and then came here. Now I don’t want to go back. You just go back and everything is the same, nothing has changed. Maybe a few shops have closed and some have opened, but it’s still the same. Everyone’s doing the same jobs. I know my life’s better here.
Would you consider doing some kind of tour business like you did before here?
Yeah, but our tours in England, we drive people around. If we did that here, we’d get stuck on EDSA.