Welcome to a small interview with two of our longest serving players.
First up, our skipper, James Alvarez..
So James, or Eliy as ‘they’ like to call you, you’re Boca’s longest serving player, you’ve been there through the highs and lows, from Michael Benitiez to James Makepeace. What do you think of the way Boca have transformed itself from what was known as a ‘friends’ club to now being a side who look to attract players from far and wide?
Boca’s transition was inevitable. Although it was disappointing to see close friends leave the club, I now believe it was necessary for the club to evolve and adapt to the increased demands of Gibraltarian football.
At the beginning of the season there were some doubts about how Boca would react to what seemed to be an avalanche of Boca fan favourites leaving the club. Fortunately Boca are blessed with hard working board members who put in endless hours to secure fantastic signings to ensure the club remained a force to be reckoned with.
Despite a very slow start to the season, with an underwhelming first round of results, a no-nonsense approach to transfers dealings in the recent transfer window, helped filter out the players unable to commit, and bringing in arguably better players who were desperate to get minutes under their belt. We have now obtained a 75% win rate since the turn of the year and have climbed 4 league places.
Do you think the influx of players from outside the circle of friends have taken the quality of football up a notch?
Yes. Since ‘abandoning’ the friendship philosophy, I would say it had no option but to get better. With no prerequisites or guidelines with regards to our transfer policies, the transfer pond became an ocean. Members of the current squad brought along friends of theirs for trials, who then brought their own friends, who in turn brought their own friends, and so on and so forth. The pool of potential signings grew significantly.
Did it mean more to win a big game when surrounded by a side full of friends? Or is the camaraderie in the side equal to previous years after victory?
A very good question. I used to think so! And initially keeping it as a club of friends seemed like a great idea and worked well in our first season, but as each season went on, it seemed to lose its magic a little. I have no explanations to why it happened, perhaps the fact everyone was overly comfortable with each other allowed our discipline to falter.
This may be why, with the players we have now, with our new transfer specifications and regulations, the camaraderie of the squad has never been better on and off the pitch. Despite the fact most of us belong to different social groups outside of football, we all seem to share a great bond. The new lads who have come in have gelled really quickly. Almost as if we have all known each other and played with each other for years!
And now secondly, Kunal Budhrani…
There were rumors in January that you handed in a transfer request with the likes of Pegasus and College 1875 on high alert. Can you confirm or deny this?
Hahaha I guess I can avoid the question for only so long. The short answer is ‘yes’ I did in a manner of speaking hand in my transfer request. As we entered the January transfer window we were going through the worst run in Boca history, we were hemorrhaging players and and we had a lot of players on our books who were not showing the commitment expected and required from a Boca player. One of players actually opted to play 5 a side rather than be our 11th man on the pitch 🏾🏾🏾 unbelievable Jeff! So I kindly asked the powers that be to bring in some players that would fight for our club or sadly, I would stop fighting for us.
You’ve been known to show your displeasure at those Boca players who left the side to seek pastures new, the likes of Karl Sene and Neil Robba. Do you not think they should be allowed to try and progress their careers?
I’ve never criticised any player for leaving Boca and as an ambitious person myself I encourage everyone to aspire and achieve big. I’ve criticised players for giving up on our club when they’ve not given their everything and then left for our direct rivals. That’s not career progression. They then go around talking shit about us. In fairness to Kai and Neil, they both left quietly and respectfully and everyone over here appreciates that. But Rick and Karl, who often declared “I AM Boca”are often heard talking smack about Boca. Sene going to olympique is like Giggs moving to City. Then again, as a Real Madrid fan, he is used to their best players being poached from rivals.
How is the banter off the pitch with the ‘new look’ Boca?
Since the shuffle made in January the atmosphere has been brilliant! Ivan, Angel and Matthew have settled in nicely – top blokes! Always cracking jokes – that Angel is a bit a devil hehe dirty bastard. A few of the lads knew and played with the likes of Carl Ramagge and “John” Ronco – they are both fantastic characters who seem like they’ve been at Boca for years. There’s a lot of fight and spirit about the team and the boys are enjoying life at the moment on and off the pitch.
Out of the new players brought in this summer, which would you say has had the biggest impact on Boca’s style of play?
I think juanjo finding fitness after Christmas and the gaffer ingeniously sticking him in the centre midfield, together with Carl Ramagge in who is a massive massive signing (in January) were vital in allowing us to play our style of football. We’ve always had creative players, Kevagn, Toni, Ahmed, before them Tzach, Sene, Rick but players like Carl and juanjo who are intelligent, relentless work horses – they are the engine of the team. A good engine is hard to find.
Thats all folks, thanks for reading.