Hienghène Sport’s Roy Kayara used to share a house with Team Wellington’s Joel Stevens and Justin Gulley but he won’t be giving his friends an inch when he sees them next.
During a stint in the New Zeland national league with Team Wellington back in 2013-14, the Hienghène-born footballer shared a house with Stevens, Gulley and now Wellington Phoenix fullback Tom Doyle, nestled next to the Basin Reserve in Newtown, Wellington.
It was from there a great friendship was formed with many treasured memories for the New Caledonian native.
But football can divide comradery as well as create it and as Kayara takes field at Stade Yoshida tomorrow to face his two former teammates he is putting it all aside, temporarily, for the win his team are desperately after.
“We’re friends before the game and after the game,” he said.
“But we can’t be in between because we all want the victory.”
The Hienghene defender who has played Champions League football with Gaïtcha FC and Tahiti’s AS Pirae and once trialled with Sheffield United in England gives credit to his experiences in Wellington for catapulting his football career.
“Wellington was a trampoline which allowed me to leap even higher into the world of football,” he said.
“I’ve played with all these teams to get experience and bring this club, Hienghène, to the highest possible level.”
Now back to his roots where football started out for Kayara, a huge sense of pride shines through for him.
“It’s a pleasure and an honour to play in the Champions League with my club,“ he said.
“It’s very special. It’s the club where I began playing football, where I learned football, a club which has my heart.”
“I will do everything I can to help take us as far as possible in this competition.”
A notable part of Kayara’s contibution to the team is his shift, at club level, to centre back from his more favoured and recogniable advanced midfield role that he still plays for Les Cagous.
“In the national team we have more experienced players who can play in defence, and with Hienghène the coach wants me playing back there because I have experience.”
But the move doesn’t mean curtailing the skills that have made him a success further up field, instead Felix Tagawa is just using Kayara’s vision and leadership in a different way.
“The coach always wants a number 10 in every position – I’m a number 10 who plays defence, and there are others who play midfield, who play up front. It’s a bit like the backbone of the club.
“It’s not my usual place. I love having the ball, dribbling, scoring goals, but it’s the choice of the coach.
“In football, you need to know how to play every position. When you love football you’ll play in any position and I’m proud to play in this one.
Hienghene Sport face Team Wellington in the second encounter of match day two in Kone, New Caledonia. Kick-off is at 8pm local time.