Maro Bonsu-Maro has taken the step up to Oceania’s biggest club, Auckland City. He has done well for himself in his first season, bagging six goals in 12 games. In this exclusive interview Football in Oceania catches up with the striker and he talks about his new club and playing regularly in the Oceania Champions League.
The former Cook Islands youth international also talks about pulling on the shirt of his mother’s home nation and clubs from the Cook Islands, as well as having a life after football and where he would go to play if he could choose.
Education is very important to me and my family. My mum made it a number one priority when I was growing up.
Football in Oceania: You’ve played in the winter leagues in New Zealand [for Central United] but this is your first season in the very top flight, what’s been the biggest difference between the two?
Maro Bonsu-Maro: Well for me personally going from having two-three trainings a week to six times was the first difference. I’m not sure about other Premiership teams but at Auckland City it is a very professional environment right from management and coaching, to how the player’s act.
I think the Premiership is faster paced and involves a lot more decisionmaking and is more tactical, compared to the winter leagues. As a striker, I noticed that defenders tend to dive in less in the Premiership which gives players a bit more time on the ball.
FiO: Have you struggled with taking the level of competition or has it been alright?
Bonsu-Maro: I haven’t really struggled but I also don’t think it’s been alright, haha! I think it’s healthy to have competition because it makes you more determined and hungrier to improve more.
I’m just happy to be part of such a club of this calibre and I’ve just been taking it one day at a time
FiO: How would you describe the season so far, both personally and for the team as a whole?
Bonsu-Maro: To be honest as a team its been a very exciting rollercoaster ride. From the start of pre-season to now, the entire team has trained and worked extremely hard and consistently. We have been fortunate enough to go through the entire season undefeated but the most important part is upcoming with the semi-finals [in the Premiership Playoffs] and OFC quarter-finals.
For me personally, I’m just happy to be part of such a club of this calibre and I’ve just been taking it one day at a time trying to learn as much as I can from Ramon [Tribulietx, Head Coach], the staff and teammates to sharpen up my game and to continue to help the team win!
FiO: You’ve played in the Oceania Champions League on several occasions now, one could almost call you a veteran of the tournament, what has been your biggest/best/nicest experience there so far?
Bonsu-Maro: Haha! A ‘veteran’. From youngest to veteran… I’m getting old!
My best moment was representing my mother’s side, playing for the Cook Island-based teams Tupapa Maraerenga and Puaikura and experiencing O-League for the first time.
Nicest experience: all the Pacific nations show so much respect and are just great people.
Biggest so far would be making it through to the quarter-finals with Auckland City.
FiO: What do you think of the upcoming OCL quarter-finals and the road to a potential final?
Bonsu-Maro: I think this is very important for the club and this is what we work hard for because it brings us closer to qualifying for the Club World Cup! We will give it our all, play smart and hard and take it one game at a time.
FiO: You played in the U17 Championship for the Cook Islands in 2013, could you tell me about that experience?
Bonsu-Maro: Wow that was a great experience! I felt so much pride playing for my home country and making my mother proud.
Even though we didn’t get the results we wanted it was the first time I had played in such a well-known prestigious tournament in front of thousands of people in Port Vila!
FiO: I’ve seen that you’ve gotten a Bachelor’s degree in business. That is something you don’t see many players do, how important was getting an education for you?
Bonsu-Maro: Education is very important to me and my family. My mum made it a number one priority when I was growing up. Both my sisters have bachelor’s as well.
It was important that I balanced my studies and football to make sure that in the long term I will have a sustainable career whether it be in football or as business
FiO: And finally; every player dreams of making it big, which club would you end up at if you could choose?
Bonsu-Maro: I think every kid dreams of making it big and becoming a professional football player. If it were up to me it would have to be Manchester United, just for the history of the club! Yes, I know its cliché!
Football in Oceania wishes Maro Bonsu-Maro all the best with the rest of the season at Auckland City.