Newcastle Jets captain and recently appointed PFA Executive, Nigel Boogaard goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss the 2015/16 season, his return home and why he wanted to take on a greater role in the players’ association.

PFA: After more than 10 years away you made the decision to return home to Newcastle and signed with the Jets. Was that something that you had always hoped to do?

NB: It was exciting to know the club was interested in my services. I honestly never thought I would get the chance to come back and play in Newcastle and as soon as that arose I wanted to hear about it more. Regardless of the state of the club at the time, with the ownership situation, I knew that long term the football club would always survive here. It has gone through its ups and downs in the past and I was confident in the years coming that Newcastle would be back to where it belongs. It is home for me and to be able to come back home and play football in front of friends and family and give back to the football community that raised me was something very special.


PFA: You are not the first Boogaard to play for Newcastle, with your Dad having played for KB United. Did that increase your motivation to join Newcastle?

NB: That added to the motivation. There is a rich history of football in Newcastle and with my father that added to the drive to get back. I didn’t experience what Dad did first hand, as I was too young, but I had heard the stories and being a proud Novocastrian I really wanted to get home and contribute to the turnaround of the club. I see this place as a sleeping giant and we can get it back the glory days. The football community up here is massive and when the product is right they will get behind it.

PFA: You were named as the club captain ahead of the season. Was that something that made you feel very proud?

NB: It was a massive honour. I never thought I would be given the opportunity to come back to Newcastle so to be given the captaincy was massive and a dream come true. It was an honour to lead those bunch of boys out every week.

PFA: Pre-season is often time of great optimism, was that true at the Jets?

NB: Pre-season was challenging. We had a big turnover of players from the season before and the coaching staff was new, so we were trying to bond on and off the pitch. From the start it was a great environment, it was welcoming to all and there was also a sense of motivation and desire to achieve something and I think when everyone is on the same page from day dot it makes every ones job much easier. There was a great sense of optimism of what we could do and what we could achieve. Obviously we set our goals to where we thought we could be and we fell short on a few marks, which was disappointing, but like I said earlier it was a good achievement considering there were so many new faces.


PFA: It seemed there was a real focus on reconnecting with the Newcastle community, was that something the players really bought into?

NB: Early in the season, and it continues to now, we wanted to not only rebuild on the park but also to re engage with the local football community. It is their club and they needed to feel part of it, as without them we are nothing. There was a big emphasis on getting back to basics and really connecting with those people and making sure they were proud of what we were doing and so that they felt some sort of connection with us on the weekends.


PFA: Your start to the season surprised a lot of people; did the players think you would start that strong?

NB: We had expectations on ourselves and what we could achieve. We didn’t really surprise ourselves. A lot of outsiders probably wrote us off, and that wasn’t our main motivation but it added to it. Unfortunately we couldn’t maintain that and people probably look back and think we exceeded expectations at the start. We learned a lot from last season and we were disappointed where we finished at the end.

PFA: There was a drop off mid way through the season but it seemed as if the unity in the team was never under threat. Did it feel that way inside the team?

NB: There was always consistency, and the messages were the same. Win, lose or draw, what we were trying to achieve on the park stayed consistent. There was a lot of things going on around the middle part of the season but there was always a sense of optimism that we would turn it around. We knew if we stuck together and demanded more from each things would get better.

PFA: How do you look back on the season?

NB: There are a lot of positives to take out of it. I don’t like to be too critical of what happened the season before, as I wasn’t here, but people have said there is a lot more engagement with the community now. In terms of results it is not where we wanted to finish but it was positive compared to the season before and we feel like we are moving in the right direction as a club. We think we can be a real contender.


PFA: How have you found life at home after so long away?

NB: It is nice to come home. It is great to be around friends and family but it also brings up other challenges as well, such as time constraints. When you are away you have more time to yourself but being around friends and family there is always someone calling or asking to do something. Then you throw on top of that your club commitments and the added responsibilities of being captain, it can be pretty busy. The first few months it was challenging to to be able to juggle everything but, like I said, to be able to walk out on Hunter Stadium with all your friends and family there makes it all worthwhile. The 10 years away of being on the Central Coast and in Adelaide I would do it all over again to get back here to Newcastle.


PFA: Finally, you recently joined the PFA Executive Committee. What was motivation behind wanting to take on the role?

NB: The decision was not taken lightly. It is a massive honour to represent your fellow players. For me over the past few months I have felt a huge amount of optimism about the PFA; I think we can get back to where we were in the past and even exceed those expectations. I want to make sure my fellow players have the resources like I have had in the PFA, to help them out  with things like education and contract negotiations. I want to make sure the young players coming through have the same support as I did when I was coming through.
Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former member to gain insight into the lives of footballers on and off the pitch.