Verónica Boquete Interview on Women’s Soccer United
Verónica Boquete: “I took this as an opportunity to be an important player again, to return to my highest level”
One of the most recognisable names in the game today, Verónica Boquete took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions about her new club Beijing BG Pheonix, thoughts on the new challenge in China, her view on the Spanish WNT as well as the game in general.
The last time we spoke to Vero for an interview was back in 2014, how time flies! At that time, the talented midfielder was playing for the German Allianz Frauen-Bundesliga club, 1.FFC Frankfurt, and was part of the historic Spanish team who qualified for their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. From what I learned from Vero’s answers and from my own opinion watching her play, it is no surprise to me that she has spent the last fours years experiencing even more football milestones and achievements.
Catching up today, what impresses me is that the passion and determination is clearly still within her, even with some career set-backs such as a recent lack of playing time at PSG and exclusion from the Spanish WNT, which Vero tells me in her interview below that she knows her time in the NT is over and that the doors are currently closed, which she has made peace with, Vero continues to seek opportunities to get the best out of her football career, overcome new, exciting challenges and be able to just continue to do what she loves, simply play football.
The Spanish legend has a very exciting challenge ahead of her having signed for Chinese club, Beijing BG Pheonix Women’s Football Club, in an exclusive interview for Women’s Soccer United, Vero gives us a fascinating insight into her move to China, her first impressions, introduction to her team-mates, her expectations and much more.
Women’s Soccer United: You have recently signed for the Chinese club, Beijing BG Phoenix Women’s Football Club, how did this exciting opportunity present itself to you and what appeals to you the most about this new challenge?
Verónica Boquete: Beijing was looking for a foreign midfielder that could help them in this new season, they contacted my agent and that’s how the offer came.
For me it was an interesting project specially because I was not having too many minutes in the last months with PSG, so I took this as an opportunity to be an important player again, to return to my highest level and to enjoy a new experience, in a new continent, in a new league…
Women’s Soccer United: Was it an easy decision to make?
Vero: Of course no! I was in one of the best teams in Europe with all the facilities and good conditions..in my comfort zone.. But, I was not playing much, this season the coach did not count on me and I think that football is made to play, and if at that time Paris was not the place, I must find another place.
Women’s Soccer United: You have played in different leagues around the world including Sweden, Germany, USA and France. Which country was the easiest to adapt to?
Vero: There are two different parts to which you have to adapt, one is on the field (style of play, the characteristics..) and another is outside (the country, lifestyle, culture, way of being..). I think I am very easy to adapt, because it is not easy and I have almost always achieved it. That’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much in almost every country… you have to go with an open mind.
Sweden and USA welcome you very well so you feel comfortable right away. Germany and France offer you greater challenges when it comes to the style of play. Russia and China it’s an “interesting cultural shock”.
Every country, every league, every team, every life experience.. have been different and enriching, both sporting and personally.
Women’s Soccer United: Were you heading to China with any expectations?
Vero: I know that it will be very different from what I am used to, in some things it will be like going back to my beginnings, but from time to time it is not bad to remember and get back the passion of the first day. Also, the league is 100% professional so the conditions are good and there is a big space for improvement. That is motivating and will make me to give my maximum to help to reach our goals.
Women’s Soccer United: How much do you know about Beijing BG Phoenix Women’s Football Club, the players, coach and the league?
Vero: Until now I didn’t have so much information about this league and Beijing. I know that China is trying to promote this league, they know that for years they have stopped being a world top in women’s soccer and they are aware that they need external help to grow, that is why they look for foreign coaches and players who can contribute with different things.
That the coach and physical coach were European (swedish) was something that I had in mind for my decision because 1) it shows that Beijing has a project in mind, that wants to change things with respect to the last years, that wants to be more competitive.. And 2) I knew that in the “football side” I will get good training.
We have some good players and the level of the team can be good enough to be competitive after a few weeks of work. We know that there are 2-3 teams that should be fighting for the titles but we want to grow and be able to be between them soon.
Women’s Soccer United: What are your first impressions overall?
Vero: We are in the south of China, in a training center, all the teams are here using the same facilities and tomorrow (13th March) we are going to start to compete, we start the cup (3 group matches).
My first impressions are a mixture, there are things that are good and I like them and others not so much, but the first weeks is a time of adaptation, acceptance and understanding.. The important thing is that the team train well and every day we are better and The club gives us everything we need. The country is an adventure, very different from Europe, in some things they are behind and in others they go ahead.
Women’s Soccer United: Tell us a little bit about your new team-mates. Who should we watch for this season?
Vero: We have a strong and experienced starting 11 and a bench with very young players, some of them the best players of the U18 and U20 national teams. We are working a lot in our build up play and some offensive connections so we will be a team that want the ball, that want to create football.. But, we know that against the best teams we have to be also very strong in defense.. New coach, new players, new methodology, new style of play, we will need time to make this work but we are already working hard and we cant wait to start the season!
Women’s Soccer United: How would you summarise your time at PSG, what has been the highlight and lowlight of your experience in France?
Vero: Although my departure was not perfect, I spent a good year and a half in Paris. Playing for PSG has been a luck and a privilege, it is a club that I will always keep in my heart.
Highlight.. last season, the Champions League playoff against Bayern and the fact of reaching the Champions League Final.
Lowlight.. that final lost and specially the last months in Paris that have been hard personally.. to leave PSG it was sad.
Women’s Soccer United: On the international stage, what are your thoughts of Spain’s performance at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017?
Vero: I think Spain went with high expectations, everyone expected a lot from Spain.. and that’s why the final result was a bit disappointing, It should have been better because there is enough team and talent.. But you have to think that only a few years ago Spain did not play Euro Cups, and in 2015 it was our first World Cup!!
I really believe that Spanish women’s football is on the right track and will soon become a powerful National Team fighting for titles.
Women’s Soccer United: Do you think you’ll return to the national team at some point? Is this something you are working towards?
Vero: No, I will not come back. I know that my time in the NT is over and that the doors are closed for me as long as the same coach continues. But it’s ok, for 14 years I’ve given everything I had for my sport and for my country so I am happy and calm with myself.
Women’s Soccer United: How has women’s football progressed since you first started playing and how do you think it can improve further?
Vero: The progression is huge and it can only go further!! When I started playing, I did not have any feminine role model, I did not know that I could be a professional footballer, I did not know there were women World Cups and Euro Cups, that I could play and win a Champions League… Now we see thousands of girls choosing football, we read about our game in the newspapers and magazines, we watch so many games on TV, we see sold-out stadiums.. The conditions are better, more and more professionals, with more sponsors, more fans.. and that is precisely the way to improve, with the commitment of clubs and federations, with sponsors support, with more space in the media that makes us reach more people and helps us change the mentality of society. More and more people will be interested in women’s soccer and soon it will be able to live on what it generate.
I just hope that we do not copy the bad things about men’s football, and that we know how to maintain the essence and the pure values of the sport.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion and Sussex footballer. Working with Women’s Soccer United to increase awareness and promote the female game to a global audience.