Players’ Corner, Episode 3: Hugo Boumous – The Making Of A Gaur

posted in Specials by Hugo Boumous on 6th February 2020

posted in Specials

by Hugo Boumous

on 6th February 2020

Players’ Corner, Episode 3: Hugo Boumous – The Making Of A Gaur

Born to play the beautiful game

I’ve come a long way. My footballing journey is unique in the sense that I got to travel the world and polish my skills in a game I’ve adored since I was a child. I’m forever grateful to everyone who helped me achieve my dreams, and every day I strive to achieve more professionally. 

At the age of 4, I had a ball at my feet. It may not have been this way, but I was lucky to grow up in a neighbourhood where a professional football player lived.

My neighbour introduced me to the beautiful game, and from then on I was hooked. I started playing with my brother and my father, grabbing every possible opportunity to head on over to a nearby garden just to kick a football.

As all parents would, my mother wanted me to concentrate on school, but all I waited for was the chance to go back home and play football. 

The big break

I was hoping I’d get an opportunity to leave my mark in the footballing world, and I was lucky enough to get one at the early age of 6 years old.

I got my first license with a team when I perhaps hardly knew what it meant. All I knew was I wanted to go out and play, and I could now do it with an amateur team in Stade Rennais, which was a big club in France.

I was training with them everyday, and they saw something in me, which motivated me to give my best every single time. For me, the plan was simple. Playing football at the highest level was a dream, and I was simply chasing it.

I was lucky enough to have parents who supported my dream. My mother was always there to pick me up and drop me to practice, and honestly, I’m not sure where I would be if it wasn’t for the support of my mother and father.

A new dawn for French football

It was a good time to grow up in France back then. Everyone loved football, and part of the reason for that was the fact that the national team was performing so well.

France had won the World Cup in 1998, and followed that up by winning the Euro 2000 tournament too, and there was a genuine belief that the players we had would go on to achieve even more success.

For me, there was one man who stood out amongst the others. Thierry Henry was at the top of his game, and he was easily my favourite player in the team.

As young footballers, we were keen to achieve a similar kind of success, and it was time for me personally to make the leap from keeping football as a hobby, to making it a profession.

The making of a man

I’ll say this – Stade Rennais made me a man. You realise how serious things are getting as you get older and train within the system, and it is no longer about the fun and games anymore, but time to get down to business.

When I was around 12 or 13, there were selections for integration into the club’s academy, and we were under pressure as young kids to compete with each other and fight for a spot amongst the elite.

We may have been kids, but nobody was backing down because of age, and once in the academy, it was all about training and managing studies at the same time.

I believe this is a difficult yet important phase for young footballers, because you come across strict coaches who want to teach you the “man’s game”, and you need to balance it with your school at the same time so you don’t fall behind in academics.

Pressure is a funny thing. You can either crumble under it, or come out victorious through it. My advice to young footballers keen to make it big is to never give up and not to doubt yourself because this is the game you love. Give it 100% all the time. 

The journey continues

Once a professional footballer, my view of the sport changed a bit. This was a job now, it was no longer a hobby. 

I was playing with players who were over 30 years of age, and there was a need to adapt to the team and the culture that came along with it. 

I believe it was difficult for me at first to adapt to playing with proper men instead of kids of my age, but this is important for any footballer who wants to go a long way in their career.

Professional football is a completely different ballgame, and once I had adapted to the new coach and the new life, I was ready for my next chapter.

Inspired by the best in the business

I haven’t been one to base my footballing style on just one individual, but rather have the qualities of some of the best players in my position.

But when you’re aiming to be the best, you obviously need someone to look up to, and in my case the player that I admired most was Andres Iniesta.

Credit: @andresiniesta8 on Twitter

Despite his smallish build, he was able to make it to the top and succeed at the highest level, which always gave me belief that someday I’d make it too.

Everything about Iniesta was perfect. Be it technically or tactically, he knew what he had to do and he did it without any trouble.

Lionel Messi is the best player in the world without a doubt, but for me the man who made the Barcelona team tick and played football the way I believe it should be played was always Andres Iniesta.

The “tiki-taka” football of Barcelona has always been mesmerising to watch, and it’s a form of play that I believe is one of the most effective ways to win trophies, and you don’t need to look far to see what Barcelona achieved by playing that brand of football for the past 10-15 years.

Becoming a Gaur – A special feeling

Taking a new step in life is never easy, but coming to India and playing for FC Goa wasn’t a decision I had to fret about too much.

I have always believed in playing good football, and the fact that at FC Goa there was a coach whose style of play suited what I believed in, the decision to move was a no-brainer.

Moving to the Gaurs was certainly an adventure, but an adventure that I wanted to explore, and I made up my mind early that I was going to achieve all my career goals right here.

Once you establish yourself at a new club, it is only then that you see the effects – whether positive or negative, and in my case I think it is clear for all to see that this was a very good move.

FC Goa play football that excites, and we play unlike any other team that Indian football has ever seen, and it is this exciting style that makes me believe that football in this country will continue to grow and develop in the coming months and years.

Eternally grateful to the fans

What surprised me the most once I moved here was the passion in the fans of FC Goa. The fan culture here reminds me of how it is back home, and is a testament to the supporters who want the team to succeed.

The fans want the team to do well, and it is a refreshing change to see genuine football fans in India making their presence felt and showing their love for the game.

Most places in India love cricket and for good reason, but the response from fans in Goa tells me that they love football more and this support is what drives us as footballers to go out on the pitch and perform for them.

Whether we play at home or we play away, they always turn up in numbers, and it shows that they genuinely love the team and want us to do well. I can’t put into words how much this pushes us on the pitch, and I just want to say thank you to all of you who support us.

Our focus is to go on and win the ISL trophy this season, and we need our fans to back us all the way so we can achieve the dream of bringing home glory. Vamos Goa!