In the first of our new “Player Focus” series, we spoke exclusively to Gosport Borough stopper Aaron Bufton about his experiences in Non-League football, his ambitions for the season and how he balances his teaching job with the sport he loves.
Aaron was always a player I wanted to speak to. I first saw him playing for Farnborough FC against Metropolitan Police where he made three fantastic saves to make sure all three points returned to Cherrywood Road. He was kind enough to answer a few questions exclusively for Non-League Oracle.
Name: Aaron BUFTON
Current Club: Gosport Borough (National League South)
Previous Clubs: Aldershot Town, Corinthian Casuals, Northwood, Hillingdon Borough, Aylesbury FC, Guildford City, Thatcham Town, Leighton Town, Farnborough FC.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NON LEAGUE GAME? WHAT CAN IT IMPROVE ON?
“I think the Non-League game is in a good place at the moment. Probably the best place it’s been in for a while. There are few issues currently in the Non-League game however, one is the quality of refereeing. A lot of referee’s know the rules but don’t fully understand the game and how to apply them. The respect campaign goes both ways, but a lot of referee’s seem to be on a power trip. The second is grassroots in general and the lack of access to affordable coaching courses. That in turn affects the quality of coaching younger players receive.”
WHAT MADE YOU SIGN FOR GOSPORT BOROUGH?
“Very simple, they are a club with a decent manager and are trying to do things the right way. Yes they have had recent issues with money but after being back there for 1 session, I knew that’s where I wanted to play for the season.I think a big factor in that was the manager. I’ve always maintained a good relationship with Pikey and he was a reason I wanted to sign.”
HOW DID IT FEEL TO PLAY FOR A TEAM KNOWING THAT YOU WOULD BE RELEGATED, NO MATTER HOW GOOD RESULTS ON THE PITCH WERE?
“The problems at Farnborough were well documented and of course it had an averse impact on morale and results. I grew up watching the club as a kid so it was hard to see them in a similar position to the one that caused the demise of the old club. However, I knew what I was getting into from the day I signed and I don’t regret a single minute of my time there. I made some very good friends and arguably played some of the best games of my career there. Staying up on paper was a monumental achievement given the results in our last 13 games. 10 wins 2 draws and 1 defeat saw us only beaten on form by eventual champions Hampton, so it’s hard to look at that scenario with anything but pride.”
HOW EASY / HARD IS IT TO BALANCE YOUR WORK COMMITMENTS WITH SEMI-PRO FOOTBALL?
“At the age of 18, Football took somewhat of a backseat in order to allow me to pursue my education. I continued playing at step 4/5 of the Pyramid throughout the course of my degree. I was fully focused on achieving my BSc and teaching qualification whilst trying to play at the best level I could. Now that has been secured, football is starting to come to the focal point of my life again. As a teacher, my job takes up a lot of my time and I have found it difficult to balance the two. I’ve missed training sessions for parents evenings and other events at the school which is frustrating.but I think most people are understanding that people have jobs.”
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR THIS SEASON?
“Gosport are a club that want to make the play offs, let’s make no secret of that. It is that ambition that made me want to sign in the first place. I might not be playing much at the moment but I’m receiving excellent coaching and learning a lot from an experienced former professional in Martin Rice. personally, playing in the Conference South would be big for me but personally I just want to improve and play as many games as I can. As I eluded to earlier, I want to play at the highest level I possibly can whilst balancing my professional and personal life.”
Why not give Aaron a follow on twitter, @abufton39