Bringing the culture of football in Phoenix, Arizona to the fore, Bones FC are a football collective with an immersive and creative edge. Linking with London based, Preston Paperboy, this collaborative capsule collection is as raw as it is wild. Discussing where it all started and where it’s going, we speak to founders David Alton and Gino Belassen and learn more about this party of a football club.

Let's start at the top - tell us about Bones FC - what is it and how did it get going?

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Bones FC is a football collective centred around the harmonious collision of varying cultures and identities—with contemporary art, football, food, and streetwear at the spearhead.

What started as a small-sided squad, quickly grew into a full-sided Sunday league team as our player members began to see our vision. Over this short amount of time, we developed traditions (i.e. “Baguettes”, postgame meals together, etc.) and eventually hosting a public pick-up night open to the entire community.

We’re establishing a culture that we feel Phoenix has been starving of—a football concept that the greater community can identify and connect with, on-and-off the pitch. We honour the Southwest and offer an abstract interpretation of what football looks like for us in the desert.

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Out of the traps, you're launching this collaborative collection with Preston Paperboy — where did that come from?

DA: When we initially formed Bones FC in the summer of 2018, I met Gino out for coffee with the idea of founding the first creative club in the valley. At that time, he had just opened up Belhaus—a contemporary gallery/café in Downtown Phoenix that showcases a select roster of artists, including himself and Preston Paperboy.

I saw the opportunity to combine my football knowledge and network with his art and network. In my eyes, this was the perfect recipe to build this from the ground up. Coupled with the fact that we grew up playing youth footy together, it was just a matter of (re)connecting the dots and slowly creating something that the community would want to take part in.

GB: My focus at the time in opening Belhaus was to create a culture around art, so this Bones project aligned perfectly.

DA: As the wheels turned and the project began to grow, we started teaming up with select businesses and artists, both locally and globally. After launching collaborations with local businesses Framed Ewe Optical and Crane&Carbon over the summer, we felt it was time to unveil our PAPERBONES card and shake up the scene. 

How would you describe the collaboration and the capsule itself?

GB: Ultimately, the articles from the collection carry the grit+grime of East London—but with a touch of Bones.

Recognising the importance of not commercialising his artwork, we focused on incorporating aspects present in his work (i.e. Nike swoosh, handwritten words, etc.) to complement a vision based entirely off his “smiler” logo. This would allow Paperboy to explore designing a line of merchandise related to (but not a direct derivative of) his art brand.

DA: From early on in the project, I understood the positive relationship between Gino and Paperboy, and took a particular liking to Preston’s work. Their partnership spilled over into Bones as time passed and jogging the idea of a collaboration came naturally, given their complementary styles and mutual love of football.

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There's a strong creative tone to what you are doing. Was the intention for it to be a creative playground as much as a football team?

GB: “Creative playground” …love it. We want to give our members an outlet for creative expression—Bones is that. As much are we’re calling the shots, Bones is truly a collective that intends to blend+incorporate the ideas of those involved. Creating this platform is our greatest reward.

DA: Behind the scenes, we are fully capable of operating as a creative lab, where we’re able to take on projects, campaigns, build-outs, etc. We think people are starting to recognise this ability.

Who is involved? Tell us about some of the players in the team?

From the get, we pieced together a diverse group of good-vibe type friends—connected by our love of the game, competitive edge, and desire to be around creative energy.

Most of us grew up playing in and around Phoenix. Some have played professionally. Some are chefs, architects, college coaches, and everything in between that makes up Phoenix. Now that our glory days are over, we were craving something to reignite our passion for the game beyond the stereotypical Sunday league team.

How big is the football scene out there? What makes it a unique place to play?

The football scene in Phoenix is undeniably massive and ever-growing. Temperatures climb upwards of +100ºF in the summer months, which translates into a lack of foot traffic—akin to a modern day ghost town. This reality has hindered the street culture that most big cities can so naturally use to their advantage…in short, we’re in the middle of the fkn desert!

This only plays in favour to the unique aspects of playing+growing in the valley sun. The territory comes with a cheeky dose of the Wild West.

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What's the objective behind the team would you say? Where do you want to take what you're doing?

Guided by instinct and our blind ambition, we will continue creating with a glass ceiling—pushing the boundaries beyond the pitch.

Whether opportunities come about through brand collaborations, partnerships with other football clubs, publications, and/or magazines, we’re thrilled to use our platform to create original content representative of our lifestyle and unique region.

With our in-house network of artists and players alike, we’re creating a culture that we feel has been missing in the local scene. This crossroads paves the way to collaborate with artists+brands outside of our network, open a Bones storefront, and eventually get involved with EA Sports/FIFA (fingers crossed).

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Find out more about Bones FC and their capsule collection with Preston Paperboy here.

Photography by Grace Stufkosky