As Brian Kaltack continues his football journey, he takes plenty of inspiration from Fijian international Roy Krishna.
Kaltack, who is based in New Zealand where he plays for Auckland City FC in the national league, wants to be a full-time professional in the future.
The defender is following a similar route to Krishna who turned out for Waitakere United and Auckland City in New Zealand’s domestic league before graduating to a professional deal with the Wellington Phoenix in 2014 where his career exploded.
Krishna now captains ATK Mohun Bagan FC in the Indian Super League and Kaltack said Krishna had shown what was possible for players from the Pacific Islands.
“One of the things I admire about Roy is his work ethic, his dedication and what he’s becoming now,” Kaltack said.
“He gave us hope that we can say that we can do that, we can be the same. That’s why I’m here now, I want the same for my other friends.”
Originally from Port Vila, Kaltack’s career has taken him throughout the Pacific with stops at clubs in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, although he has lived in New Zealand for the past few years.
The 27-year-old joined Auckland City in 2018 and has made more than 30 appearances for the side.
There’s a small Vanuatuan community in Auckland and he catches up with them every few weeks, which makes him feel at home, but there is one thing he wishes he had more of.
“I miss a lot of island food,” he said with a smile.
A proud Vanuatu representative, the next time he will likely pull on the national jersey will be for the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, although it is unclear exactly when they will take place as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose challenges.
“When it comes to the national team, I take it very seriously.”
Football’s popularity in Vanuatu continues to grow and Kaltack said that would only gather more steam in the future.
“It’s crazy. In Vanuatu, the first ball that comes to you, if you ask any person about it, it’s a football. Football is like the number one priority.”
New Zealand’s domestic football landscape will undergo major changes in the coming months and Kaltack said his preference was to remain with the Navy Blues if he didn’t head offshore.
Auckland City coach Jose Figueira said Kaltack still had potential to improve as a player.
“Brian’s someone who’s now been in New Zealand a number of years, he’s obviously familiar and comfortable with the league and everything that comes with it,” Figueira said.
“At his age he’s still someone that has got a lot of development to come, he’s really eager to learn, he’s always one of the first guys wanting to see clips back and review his performance.
“You see that through his play on the pitch, he’s really proactive from the back. His physical and athletic ability is probably unmatched in the league but all the other parts of his game are progressing on a daily basis, which is really exciting.”
City made a slow start to this season’s ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership but sit at the top of the table after seven rounds, edging Team Wellington on goal difference.
On Saturday, they will meet the Hamilton Wanderers at their home ground Kiwitea Street and Kaltack said they were moving in the right direction following last Sunday’s 3-0 win over Waitakere United.
“We’ve kind of had ups and downs but we have pulled ourselves together. After last weekend’s result we are now back on top and we have to maintain it from there.”