Hello Fellow Soccer Lovers
Hello soccer lovers! I will shortly be starting a series of interview blogs with various experts of the game to help you further learn and improve here on SportsEdTV. However, before this gets started, I will tell you a bit about myself.
My obsession with soccer must have started early because I don’t remember anything about that moment. It’s possible that as a newborn my pacifier fell out of my mouth and onto my foot, and something clicked in my tiny head. I was set on playing pro in any memories that I have. The dream went relatively smoothly for the first 10 years. Around age 11 I developed chronic tendonitis in my knees that would prove to be a career-long challenge. Still, I spent a lot of time doing rehab and strengthening exercises, and the 80% of trainings/games that I still got to play I would have traded for nothing.
I left New York for IMG Academy, a sport-focused boarding school in Florida when I was 15 years old. For the first time in my life, the field was no longer the only place I felt at home. At IMG everything was soccer. We trained every morning until about noon. We then had to get back to our dorms, shower, get to the cafeteria, eat lunch, and get to class by around 1 where we’d be until around 6. After school, we’d have dinner, do homework and chill, then sleep and repeat. Since all of this was done with teammates, soccer was never far away. We talked about it constantly. We streamed games in class on our laptops (if any of my teachers read this, I am so sorry), and every time a goal was scored during class I was instantly reminded which teams each of my friends supported by their subtle fist pumps and whispered profanities.
Motivation and determination was never an issue for me. I wanted to make it professional more than anything. The areas where I did struggle were injuries, staying patient, and the race against time. For 2.5 of my 3.5 years at IMG I was unable to break into their first team and I struggled a lot with the tendonitis in both my knees, but each year I got closer. In my final year, I made the top academy team in a season where it was particularly strong and sprinkled with national team players. I was finally surrounded by players who were at the level that I wanted to be at, and I could feel myself improving quickly. However, life had its own plans. A few weeks after making the team I dislocated my shoulder in a training session. It became clear that I would need surgery, and that I would not play again for about 8 months. The heartbreak and frustration were inescapable. However I still loved the game, and while resting I couldn’t wait to be back on the pitch.
After my shoulder recovered, I ended up doing trials for the reserve team of a 5th division team in Spain and got in. The European lower leagues were the path that I’d always wanted, but it was well behind where I had imagined myself playing by age 19. I was not able to adjust the expectations I had for myself after my loss of the previous season. I found myself not enjoying the game anymore. My knees had only gotten worse with the time off, and I wasn’t improving at a fast enough rate to be anywhere near satisfied with my progress. By the end of the season, I decided it was time to move on with my life.
In the next couple of years, I was slowly able to find some new interests, started a health-tech startup which has been lots of fun, finished university, and after taking a break got back into playing soccer as a hobby which has reminded me why I started in the first place: because it’s so much fun. This brings us to today when I am very excited to be writing for SportsEdTV!
My role here is to conduct interviews with various soccer experts such as top-level coaches, scouts, dieticians, weight trainers, players, etc., and write out these interviews as blogs which focus on exactly what you, as a player, coach, parent, or simply lover of the game, need to know from those at the highest level about improving at soccer. I’ve been through the journey myself, and I know first hand that the study of the game is critical to improvement. Your body needs much more rest than your mind, and it’s important to take advantage of this in order to improve efficiency. I want to condense the most important information, from those who truly know it best, and make sure it’s communicated as actionable advice. Improving at soccer is both a trying and amazing journey and the benefits it heeds pour over into every aspect of life. Now get out there and train, the interviews are soon to come!