Age ain’t nothing but a number

GLENWOOD, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12:  General views during the 2015 State Cup Grand Finals at Valentines Sports Park on July 12, 2015 in Glenwood, Australia.  (Photo by Jeremy Ng/FAME Photography for Football NSW)

Age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to playing the world game.

Just ask Canterbury District Soccer Football Association’s Leichhardt Tigers JFC over 35’s player manager and former NSL star John Buonavoglia.

His side recently tasted success taking out the Over 35’s State Cup Finals at Valentine Sports Park in style defeating Como West Jannali 7-2.

Buonavoglia’s team boasts some notable players that were once gracing football pitches in the old National Soccer League as well as the NSW State League.

With players like Raphael Bove, Sam La Rocca, Robbert Pirecca, it was just a matter of time before the star studded team lifted the State Cup.

“For me personally, we’re all really good mates and guys that I’ve grown up with who are all talented players.

“At the age of 13 and 14, we all sort of played in the same team and grew up together.”

For the Tigers, it was a tough road to the State Cup Final, playing on a weekly basis which involved double headers leading up to the big game.

“All the round games were hard for us as we played double headers in all the lead up games except the Final, while all the other teams were fresh.

“It was difficult for the old body to back up, especially against good teams like Gymea United and Dunbar Rovers.”

In the Final, Sutherland Association’s Como West Jannali were the Tigers opponents, and Buonavoglia’s team were ready to bring the Cup home in style.

“It’s the first year we nominated ourselves to play in the competition and being together for three years, there was good anticipation to win it.

“Some players in our team have done it before and hearing their stories made us want to win it even more.”

The final was quite one sided as the Tigers ran out 7-2 winners.

Celebrations were kept to a ‘minimum’ for Buonavoglia’s boys with an open bar courtesy of one of the boys.

“It was awesome after the final.

“We’re fortunate that one of the guys owns Balmain Beer so it was good to get together and have a ‘quiet little beer’.”

It was hard for the player manager to pin-point one player that made a massive impact but instead highlighted a few key players.

“Obviously a few stand out, (Raphael) Bove plays like he could still be playing in the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 1 competition, Carlos Gonzalez is there as well as a few boys turning back the clock like (Robbie) Pirecca, Daniel Ucchino, Anthony Trieste and many more.”

Buonavoglia says it’s important for him and his team mates to be active and playing football for various reasons.

“It’s brought out the youth in us.

“Mentally getting out of the house once a week to train makes it the day we look forward to most.

“We actually play like we’re a lot fitter than other teams also.

“We also had to put a few guys on strict diets”.

A remarkable achievement for the Canterbury District side is that they have been a dominant force in their respective local competition.

“In the Canterbury District, we haven’t dropped a point in three years during the round robin part of the league, not even a draw.

“We did lose the Grand Final in our second year but that’s been our only loss.”

There is one competition the Tigers are keen to win and Buonavoglia and his team are hungry for the title.

“This year’s Champions of Champions is the only competition that has eluded us in the past two season and we want to win it this year.”

By Nikola Pozder