Monday, February 27, 2012

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

The main purpose of this blog is to keep you all updated on whats happening with my football. But I also want to try and add more posts on what I get up to while I'm over here, information on the places I visit and see, etc. So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try my best to not only update you all on my football, but also add some photos of different parts of Oslo and different things like that. Sundays in Europe are usually pretty boring, especially in Norway. Everything in town is closed and there is usually very little to do. So on Sunday (yesterday), I decided to go and check out one of the main tourist attractions, the Holmenkollen ski jump. The ski jump is a notable part of the landscape surrounding the Oslo area; because of its location you can easily see the ski jump from anywhere in the city. I'm currently living very close to the ski jump, so after passing it everyday the past couple of weeks, I decided it was time to go check it out. I had been to see it before, but not for almost two years and I had never been in the winter. I was hoping to see some ski jumpers training, but unfortunately there weren't any training when I arrived. This is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions and that was obvious yesterday, as there were plenty of tourists checking it out. You don't really realize the size of the ski jump until you get there, but it truly is huge. I have no idea how the skiers do what they do, it must be absolutely terrifying. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see any skiers jumping in person, but maybe I'll go check out a competition there one day if I get time. Another reason many people like to go there, is because of the view of the city; you have a stunning view of the whole city and the Oslo fjord. I would definitely recommend going to see the ski jump, if you get the chance to travel to Oslo. Check out my pictures below.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Playing Differences from Country to Country - Part Three: Football in the UK

Playing in the UK was certainly a different experience to Norway in many ways and I enjoyed many aspects of living there. I was really lucky to get the chance to play in Scotland my first year in Europe and then England the following year. Playing in Scotland was certainly an interesting time for me. It was my first year away from home and living in the small town of Ayr, I was a very long way from where I grew up in Canada; and suddenly surrounded by a lifestyle that I was not at all used to. Although one would think that I’d feel more at home in an English speaking country compared to a non-English speaking place, I would say that I felt just as foreign there as I do now. I was the only foreign player not just on my team, but also in my entire club.

I joined the club when I was 17 and I was a part of the U19 squad at Ayr United. The set-up at Ayr was good, we had a lot of interaction with the First team and we would train with them on a regular basis. Because of the team I was on, things were very competitive; U19 is last step before making the first team and the boys were very aware of this fact. When I first came into the club the players were not very welcoming to me and I can understand why. I remember the first day I came to the club, a coach took me into the dressing room of the U19 team and introduced me, “Alright boys, this is Robbie Tice from Canada. He’s in on trial with the first team this week and he’s here to take your places.” As I’m sure you’ve guessed, that really didn’t help my case with making friends, because I instantly had a target on my back! It definitely took me a little while to adjust to style of Scottish football after growing up in Canada. It’s very physical and you usually have little, to no time on the ball. At that point in time I was still primarily playing as a Striker and I was scoring a lot of goals. I believe I improved a lot during my year there as a player and a person. It was a good experience and a good place for me to get my start in Europe.

The facilities in the UK are usually far from glamorous. In North America, there is a common belief that every professional football club is worth millions and clubs are rolling in money. However only the Premier League clubs usually have top class facilities, and most lower division side clubs don’t have much extra cash. Ayr United play in Somerset Park, a stadium that is over 100 years old! There are seats in one stand and terracing on the remaining three sides of the ground; this is pretty typical for a First or Second Division Scottish team. At the time I signed, the club was supposed to be building a brand new stadium, but almost 4 years later this is still yet to happen. I believe the club was hit hard financially during the recession, as were many other British football clubs. Due to the history of younger players paying their dues in the UK, you often hear stories of young trainees at the professional clubs cleaning the first team players boots and doing other tasks like this. You also hear many stories of the first team players finding ways to put the young players in their places and I wondered if I would ever face any of those situations. I stood out at the club a great deal, because I was the only foreign player and I thought that this was going to cause me some problems at some point. Luckily for me I was accepted by all the players and even the first team players were very welcoming to me eventually. In fact, the first team players actually treated me better than the players on the U19 team. I liked being around the first team players and tried to learn as much from them as I possibly could in training. I certainly got used to being made fun of every time that I opened my mouth, but this never really bothered me, I knew it could have been much worse. Nothing really bad ever happened to me, or any of the other youth team players, but the First team certainly tried to make a point of who was boss a few times. I remember one time returning from training to find that all of our (the U19 team’s) clothing was tied together in a line from one wall to another in the changing room. My clothes and underwear were on a stuffed panda mascot in the middle of the room, and a few unlucky players found their clothes soaked in the shower. There was a particular reason that the first team decided to do this, but I can’t recall exactly what we had done. But whatever it was we certainly didn’t try to do it again. All in all, my experience in Scotland was a good one. It helped me continue to grow into the player I am today and I don’t regret my time there in any way. I have many fun memories of spending my days at Somerset Park in Ayr.

My experience in England was very similar to my experience in Scotland. The lifestyle and the style of football is more or less the same. I found that in England it was very difficult to gain the respect of English coaches and players, I guess because I was a foreign player and because I’m Canadian. Many of the players were very ignorant and assumed just because I didn’t come up through the system in England, I wasn’t going to be a good player. Luckily for me, I let my playing do the talking and showed that I belonged there every time I stepped out onto the field. In England, they like big, strong, physical players. There isn’t much emphasis on technical skills in most clubs and I found that sometimes being an athletic player would make some to consider you being a good player; which I think is far from the truth. Having said that I was lucky to develop my game in a very good environment there. I spent the season training with Crewe Alexandra FC, which is one of the top clubs in the country for developing players. As a teenager, the club became like home to me, because I spent time there almost every summer in high school training with the youth teams; and then spent a season training there in 2009/2010, while also playing for Nantwich Town FC. So by the time I did actually move to England full-time, I knew what to expect for the most part. Nantwich Town FC is a small club close to Crewe, which also acts like a farm team for the young players at Crewe Alexandra at times. Living in Crewe was an interesting experience, somewhat similar to living in Ayr. Crewe is historically an industrial town and the some of the people in the town itself, tend to be a bit rough around the edges. I think living in Ayr helped prepare me for this because it was very different to lifestyle I was used to back home in Canada. It was sort of a hard place for me to fit in, but I found a way to make myself blend in and become part of the community.

Drinking surrounds the football culture in England and Scotland. To my surprise many of the top players would regularly go out to the pubs and drink heavily. In my opinion the two shouldn’t mix, if you want to be a top player you should leave the drinking to the fans. But this is just the way of life in the UK; football and drinking go hand in hand. I would often see kids as young as 12 or 13 drinking on the street corner on a typical evening, just because they had nothing better to do. Touching on the education side of things, the players are unfortunately too focused on their football and for the most part don’t put any effort into their education. Most of the good young players that I met figured they could get away with completely ignoring school, or at least doing the bare minimum, because of their success on the football field. Unfortunately this causes many players there to be left in bad life situations at the end of their football careers, because they have nothing to fall back on. The fans in the UK are extremely passionate and truly love their football clubs. Following the clubs is more than just a hobby for some, it can be a way of life. There is a lot of tradition surrounding all of the football clubs in the UK, with most of the clubs being over 100 years. Because of this you see many people that are truly fans for life, because they’re brought up around the football club from a very young age. So as you can guess, people take football very seriously there, sometimes too seriously.

I hope you've enjoyed my latest blog posts on the different countries I've played so far. They have all been truly unique in their own ways. In all of the places that I’ve played, I think I’ve been able to take certain pieces of what I’ve learned and add them to my game, making me the player I am now. I’ve also made many great friends, and had many fantastic experiences and memories over the past couple of years. There have also been many hard and difficult times that I’ve had to overcome, but these experiences have all been very important in shaping who I am today. I look forward to the future and to experiencing any other places that the game takes me.

Playing Differences from Country to Country - Part Two: Football in Norway

I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to have the opportunity to play football and live in three different European countries over the past couple of years. Although this was never planned, it’s just the way things ended up working out for me and I wouldn’t change a thing. Having the chance to play in many different places has not only improved me as a football player, but also as a person. I’ve had a unique opportunity to see the world through a sport that I love to play, and I hope that I can continue to do so for a long time.

People quite often ask me where my favorite place to play has been and why. I’ve enjoyed certain aspects of every place that I’ve played in and also disliked individual things about each place on it’s own. However if I had to pick a favorite place to play, it would have to be where I am right now, Norway. The reason I prefer playing in Norway is because the lifestyle is very similar to what I’m used to in Canada. The way people act in general is almost identical to what I'm used to. The language is of course a bit of a challenge. Although everyone here speaks fluent English, being the only foreigner on a team can be very difficult, not only on the field, but also off it. Norwegians are usually very welcoming once they get to know you and they’re comfortable around you. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult from time to time. For example, being in a group of players where I might be the only one that doesn’t speak Norwegian. It can be hard to be in the middle of a conversation, where I don’t understand more than a few words here or there, and usually by the time I do figure out what they’re talking about, they're onto a new topic. The same can be said about being on the training field. Luckily I'm getting to the point now where I can understand almost everything the coach is saying in training if I really focus. Usually we will get a quick introduction to the drill we’re doing (in Norwegian) and then we're expected to get into it right away. Once in a while the coach may confirm with me if I understand or one of the players might throw in a brief translation to help me out, and then its straight into the drill. As hard as this might sound, I actually enjoy the challenge and I hope that one-day I will be able to speak Norwegian fluently.

The players in Norway are all very well educated for the most part and can usually speak at least 2-3 languages. The football clubs in Norway encourage players to get an education, even the players that are playing at the very highest level. I’ve noticed that the playing style here varies a lot from team to team. Some teams play a very direct style, with lots of long balls, with a lot of emphasis on fitness levels and high-pressuring the other team into making mistakes. While some teams base their playing styles on short passing and moving, and possession based build-up play. Of course both styles can be successful and whatever works for the club and it’s players is what the team should stick with. In Norway, there is a lot of tradition in football and the entire country loves the sport. When I first arrived here, I was actually surprised with the popularity of the game and how much it’s on TV and covered in the media. The top Norwegian leagues are found on TV regularly and there's a huge following of the English Premier League and other European football here.

As for my experiences on the field here, they have been very good for the most part. I feel like I’ve been able to adapt to the football in Norway very well, because my playing style suits the way most teams play. Playing for FK Bodø/Glimt was a really great experience for me. Traditionally the club has been a top club in Norwegian football. They have great facilities and coaching staff, and the training environment was challenging, so it was certainly a perfect place for me to start in Norway. I also made many great friends there, that I'm sure I'll continue to stay in touch with for a very long time. Living in Northern Norway was certainly a unique experience. I started this blog when I was in Bodø, so if you go back to the start of my blog, you can read more about my time in Bodø and the experiences I had there. Last year I made the move to Oslo, to play for 2nd Division club Kjelsås IL. Oslo is the place to be in Norway if you want to get spotted by the biggest clubs. Oslo is the capital city of Norway and it's a great place to live, it also has by far the most clubs in the country. I enjoyed my time with Kjelsås and believe I improved a lot during my 2nd season in Norway.

The football development system in Norway is top class. Considering Norway is not a very big country, the National team is very good and the professional leagues here are at a high standard. All of the clubs have excellent youth systems and many of the smaller clubs, produce talented players that move onto the bigger clubs. One thing that I really like about the development system here, is the way that Reserve teams are incorporated into the National League System. Basically the top three professional leagues (Premier Division, First Division and Second Division) have clubs based throughout the country. Each of these teams also has a reserve team that has to play in the league system. The highest level the Premier League reserve teams can play in, is the Second Division; and the First and Second Division clubs reserve teams play in the third division. It's a bit difficult to explain, but hopefully that makes sense. By doing this players that aren't playing full matches for the first team continue to develop by playing meaningful, 90 minute matches with the reserve team every week. This is huge for development and something that many players benefit from here greatly.

Norway is also a fantastic country to live in and Norwegians are very proud of their country. It has one of the highest ranked standards of living in the world and is certainly a very safe and comfortable country to live in. There is plenty to do here, with the beautiful vast scenery across the country. If you ever get a chance to take a train across Norway, I would highly recommend it based on the amazing scenery alone, it's definitely worth seeing. Because of this Norwegians love to be outside, regardless of the weather conditions and most people here enjoy a very active lifestyle. A major downside of living here is the cost of living. It’s extremely expensive here and has been rated as the most expensive country in the world to live in. With all of that said, I have really enjoyed my time in Norway and I’m proud to call this my second home at the moment. The football here is great and I’m looking forward to playing my 3rd season here this year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Playing Differences from Country to Country - Part One: Soccer in Canada

People often ask me what the differences are in playing from one country to another and the answer is there are many differences, but also many similarities. Having growing up playing in Canada and now having played for professional clubs in 3 different countries in Europe, I believe I have a unique view on soccer in many different places. In this two-part blog post, I’m going to compare and contrast the differences in playing in the countries I’ve played in. I’m going to talk about topics such as the football culture, facilities, youth development and some of the experiences I’ve had. I’m also going to discuss soccer in Canada and how Canadian Soccer could benefit from following in the footsteps of how some European countries operate their professional football.

In Part One, I’m going to start from the beginning where it all started for me, at home in Canada. Growing up I played many different sports, but soccer was always my number one love. As I got older I began to excel as a player and always played at the highest youth levels possible. However around the age of 16, the elite opportunities began to disappear. Many of my good friends who I grew up playing with, started to quit soccer for various reasons. The main reason being that around that age, there isn’t anywhere for players to go with soccer in Canada. Some of the top players that continued to play at the highest levels would pursue Soccer Scholarships, which can be a great option. However for players looking to advance their careers to the professional ranks, the opportunities are slim to none. Basically if you wanted to become a pro, you had to head overseas and try your luck. Luckily for me, I was aware of this fact from an early age and I began pursuing opportunities with clubs in Europe around the age of 14, which allowed me to develop my game with good players, make many contacts and is part of the reason I’m playing here today.

In the past five years soccer has begun to grow immensely in North America and Canada. We now have three teams competing in the MLS, and one, but soon to be two clubs participating in the NASL (North American 2nd Division), however this is not nearly enough. It is fantastic that we have started to get some professional clubs on the map in our home country, but on these teams how many players are actually Canadian players? The answer is very few; in fact, two of the MLS clubs play with the bare minimum of three domestic players on their roster. I don’t understand why Canadian MLS clubs so often overlook local talent. There are plenty of talented players across Canada, yet so often we see journeyman American players or inexperienced college draft picks, taking up the places that should be occupied by young developing Canadian players. NASL club FC Edmonton is a great example of a club looking to develop Canadian talent. I spent some time training with them last season and it became obvious to me, that we need to have more clubs like this across Canada. It’s great that all of the Canadian pro teams are now starting to have full youth systems and time will tell how effective these academies are, with the results showing in how many players start to make the step up into the club’s first teams. But what about the players that don’t make the step up? There is no domestic place for players to continue their development.

People in Europe quite often ask me why I don’t play professionally in Canada. When I continue to tell them about the situation and that we don’t have a fully Canadian Professional league, they look at me like I’m crazy. Before asking me “How does a country the size of Canada not have a professional league?” Of course that is part of the problem, Canada is such a huge country and it makes it very difficult to create a nationwide league from scratch, with no professional teams to fill the league with because the only current pro teams all play in the American leagues. I don’t believe that the top teams should make a change and why should they? They’ve worked years to get into the top level of soccer in North America and should stay there. Professional soccer is a business and at the end of the day, the clubs are in it to make money, but that doesn’t mean they should neglect developing Canadian talent. The bottom line is we need a fully functioning professional league in Canada, where players can develop their game. I believe this has to become a top priority and that people at the top need to continue to look at ways to make this work somehow. Soccer is the most played sport across Canada for kids. It’s continuing to grow more and more, yet the professional opportunities are still so limited. If we want to become a better soccer nation, there has to be a way to improve the amount of these opportunities. I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a regional league system in Canada. Create a Division 2 league and split the league into 4 or 5 regions across the country. There has to be enough interest in the major cities to field a team in a league like this. Find 8-10 cities in each region that are willing to host a club in the league and before you know it you have between 30 and 40 new professional environments. Imagine all the big cities in the country creating a solid professional club, with youth clubs feeding into them. It would be fantastic to see one day and I believe that it’s what is needed for Canada to take soccer to the next level. It would give kids a level to aim towards after youth soccer and a realistic chance at playing professionally one day in their own country.

Look at hockey for example; Canada has developed many of the best players in the world. Of course, it would be very difficult to match the popularity of hockey in a place where it has always been the most popular. That would be like trying to make hockey more popular than soccer somewhere in Europe, where soccer is tradition. But the reason we develop so many great hockey players is because the proper development systems are in place. Can you imagine hockey players in Canada trying to make it the NHL without ever having played any levels of Junior Hockey? It would be next to impossible, but that is essentially what soccer players in Canada are currently facing in their efforts to make it to the professional ranks. In hockey, players have a place in different levels of Junior Hockey to advance their game each season and continue to make steps towards the big time. We need to follow this model with soccer in order to be successful. One soccer model in North America that is heading in the right direction is the PDL (Premier Development League), which is mostly an U-23 league in North America (again mostly American clubs, with a few Canadian teams) that college players play in during the summer months. America faces many of the same problems as Canada with developing the professional game, such as sport popularity, country size, etc. But they are certainly doing many of the right things and are developing many top players. Their youth systems feed into the college system and from there some players make the step up to the pros, but that’s a whole other topic on it’s own. Now the reason I bring up the PDL, is that it’s a good regional model to follow. There are many clubs spread across the country divided into separate regional divisions. I believe the season is way too short for developing players, but it would be a great model for Canada to follow. If a league like that can be set up for players to play in during the summer months in America, why can’t a similar league be set up in Canada with much longer seasons and professional clubs?

I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe young players need a place to play and develop, in order for soccer in Canada to make it to the next level. We need to find a way to create a professional league system in Canada, with fully functioning youth academies in place for players to develop in. Otherwise, I think people in Canada will continue to ask the same questions over and over, on why we don’t have success Internationally. It’s not that we don’t have the quality of players, because we definitely do produce some very good talent. But we need to continue to find ways to make the sport grow in the country, in order to improve and be able to compete with other top football nations. In Part Two, I’m going to discuss the differences I’ve seen from country to country in the places I’ve played in Europe. And again, possibly discuss how Canada could benefit from following these models.

Checking In

I'm almost through another week of training back in Norway and things are continuing to go well for me. I've trained with a few teams in Oslo since arriving and should have news soon on where I'll be playing the upcoming season. As soon as I have news, I'll be sure to post it up here.

I hope you all enjoyed my last blog post on what it takes to make it in Europe. If you enjoy reading my blog posts, I'd love to hear from you.

I will be posting another blog later today, that I hope many of my readers will find interesting. I'm going to write about the differences of playing from country to country, in at least two separate posts. In the first post on this subject, I'm going to start with talking a bit about playing in Canada. So check back later for that...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What It Takes

One of the many reasons I decided to start this blog, was to give young players an inside look at what it’s like playing in Europe. So I want to give some advice to young players thinking of giving it a shot overseas eventually. First of all, you have to want this more than anything in the world. Many dream of the opportunity of playing soccer for a living, but the reality is very few actually make the grade, it’s extremely competitive. Coming to Europe involves a great amount of sacrifice. By coming over here, you’re leaving behind your friends and family. You spend most of your time relaxing and doing nothing, when you’re not training to prepare for the next game or session. Sometimes you can be in a totally foreign environment, where you don’t know anybody and may not speak the first language and believe me, it can be very hard at times. So being able to put up with changes and homesickness is huge. It’s not easy and it’s by no means the most glamorous thing in the world, trying to work your way up the soccer ladder. I’ve met countless North American players over the years that have come over here and hit one speed bump, and packed it in and headed home. I’ve heard so many people say, “I never got a fair chance” or “I didn’t have any luck”. As much as those can both be factors in things not working out, I believe if you want something, you figure out a way to make it work. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities and find a way. Many players expect instant success as soon as they touch down and if they’re not immediately lining up for Manchester United in the Premier League as they had imagined, they’re on the first plane back home.

I believe if you want to make it in Europe, you need to have much more than good soccer skills. You have to have the right mindset and be willing to learn, as well as being capable of adapting to your new surroundings. I believe one of the reasons I’ve had some success over here, is because I’ve been willing to work my way up the ladder each season. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t played in some of the most glamorous places in the world, but sometimes that is what it takes to make it. I think I have improved my game every season I've been here and have made noticeable steps up each season. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve become a sponge and taken time to learn off more experienced players. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with many players that have played at the highest levels, whether it be in the Premiership, the Champions League or their National teams. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to develop my game in various countries, with different playing styles. Because of this I think I have an edge over many players, because I can fit into many different team systems now. I feel like I have the ability to drop in to any team, with any group of players and fit in right away, which is so important. I also came over here a few years ago, as a Striker. I was soon converted into more of a winger/wide Midfielder. It took me some time to get used to playing this position full-time, but I trusted my coaches and have given everything I can to become the best player I can be. Last season I played every position on the field except for center back and goalkeeper. My point is that being a versatile player can be very beneficial for you. One of the most important things for me, is you have to believe in yourself. If I had quit the first time someone told me I wasn't good enough, I would have stopped playing soccer a long time ago. You have to have the confidence to believe in your own ability and be able to block out the people who try to bring you down. Have a close support group who believes in you and stick close to them. Because at the end of the day, these are the only people that matter. Many of the best players in the world today will tell you, that they have been told they weren't good enough by someone or many people. You just have to ignore these people and continue to prove them wrong with your performances on the field.

Even if you happen to be the best player on your team or in your school, you have to realize it's a great start, but you need to do more. Just because you're a good player, doesn't guarantee that you will make it. I've played with hundreds of good players over the years growing up, that never came even close to making it. You have to realize how many other players are out there working, trying to become better than you. Just because you're the best on your team, doesn't mean anything in the long run, because think about how many teams there are in every community, and how communities there are in every region, and how many regions there are in every country, and that's just for your individual age group. I'm not saying this to make it seem like there is no chance to make it, I just think it's important to realize how difficult it is to make it. I remember a few years ago playing in a tournament in England for Crewe Alexandra. It was a mini-tournament which included U18 teams from Crewe, Sheffield United and Manchester United. All three clubs produce some top talent and this tournament was being held at Manchester United's training ground. I will probably always remember that day, it was a dream come true for me to be coming up against one of my favourite teams in the world. We played a few games that day, and I remember how hyped the boys and I were after we beat Manchester United. I will also never forget the chat that the coaches had with us after that game. They sat us down and told us how brilliantly we played, but they immediately took us back down to earth. They said "take a look around at the players you're sitting beside, now take a look at Sheffield United and Manchester United. There is about 60 great players here today. The reality is boys only a few of you will make it to become a first team pro. Even though you boys are some of the best talent in the country, statistics show that at the end of this season 90% of you will be released and will not become full-time professionals. Maybe two-three players from each team will make the step up. So be happy with the work you did today, but realize how many great players are out here today and how many will be where they want to be at the end of the season. It's up to you where you will stand at the end of this season." For me and many more players that was a very influential talk and a very important one. Luckily I believe many of the players from those teams went onto become pro's, but unfortunately many talented players were also let go.

Now I’ve gone and pointed out many of the obstacles that you may face, while trying to make it as a soccer player. I feel that I’ve gone through many and will continue to go through more. Because that is part of what being a soccer player is, it’s a roller coaster ride, with so many ups and downs. However don’t let what I just wrote put you off, because if you’re willing to face the challenges and you manage to over come them, its 100% worth it. Getting the chance to play soccer as a job and to live in a different country doing what you love, is pretty great on its own and being able to do it, makes all the sacrifices worth it. I can’t guarantee that if you come over here and work hard that you will have success, because it’s not an easy road. But I do know that if you want it more than anything in the world and come over with an open-mind, ready for new challenges and believing in yourself, you never know what can happen. For any young players reading my blog, I wish you nothing but the best and hope that you learned something from this blog entry. Continue working on your fundamental skills and try to develop into the best soccer player you can be. Make your soccer ball your best friend, take it everywhere with you and practice, practice, practice! As one of my most influential coaches once told me “there is no magic pill”. It takes years of dedication and practicing to become a great soccer player. No matter how good you get, there are always ways you can improve your game. Ask for feedback from your coaches, figure out your weaknesses and find ways to improve your all around game. If you continue to do that and continue to put yourself in a challenging playing environment, I assure you, you’re off to a great start.


Week 3

After having a much-needed weekend off training, I’m feeling very well rested and ready to go for next week. Once again the weather has continued to warm up here in Oslo this week. I’m looking forward to seeing the last of the snow for the year, although I may have to wait a while for that still. The past week has gone by pretty quickly and I’m still happy with how things have been going. Training has continued to go well for me. The training sessions are top class and I’ve been enjoying my time on the field here so far. Other than training, I’ve mostly been relaxing in my off time. With the Norwegian winter weather, it’s a little bit more difficult than usual to explore the city and new places, the way I usually like to. After being told by many how great “Entourage” is, I’ve become addicted to the show, and I’m trying to watch every episode of every season. Since I’ve had some free time on my hands lately, I’m going to do a blog post on “what it takes” to play in Europe. I think some of my readers will find it interesting to read about and I hope that it will help some young players realize what it can be like playing over here, so check back for that later. For now, check out my latest boots I’ve been wearing, Nike CTR360 Maestri II (see picture below). I love the feel of these boots so far. I was able to wear them straight out of the box without any issues and I would definitely recommend these boots to anyone. For me having a good, comfortable pair of boots that are always reliable is very important! As always if you have any questions for me, you can reach me at


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Week 2

It's hard to believe I've been back in Norway about 10 days, time's been flying... Luckily it's a lot warmer this week than it was last week, its around -8 right now. Still pretty cold, but much more bearable than it was. I think I'm finally starting to get totally adjusted to the time difference, although my body decided it was time to wake up at 5:45 yesterday morning. Things have been going well and I'm happy to be back over here, it's great to be getting back into training again. I love it when my day revolves around going to practice, what more could you ask for? I'm still training with the same team and I'm pleased with the way things are going. The training is top quality and the players/coaching staff have made me very welcome. We have been training part of the time indoors and part of the time outside in the stadium. Training outside in this cold is certainly an adjustment. The field is cleared of snow before training, but the field is still very slippery, it can be like trying to play on an ice rink at times. The water bottles are frozen solid after about an hour of training! Anyways I'm really enjoying it over here so far and will keep you all posted on whats happening with me. Wanted to post a few pictures of the area I'm staying in right now, before heading off to training for the day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tilbake I Norge (Back in Norway)

Hello from Oslo!

It’s nice to be back in Norway. I have started training again, which was luckily indoors. However I’m told training next week will be outdoors, hopefully I misunderstood that, but somehow I don’t think I did. My first session went well, it felt great to get out there on the field and get my first touches on the ball. I felt pretty typical after a long flight, heavy legs, but overall I thought I had a good session. I look forward to getting back out on the field this week, after having a relaxing weekend. I’m currently training with a First Division team in Oslo, I will keep you all posted on how it goes.

This is the first time I’ve been to Norway in the winter and I have to say it’s very different than being here in the summer. The last 5 days the temperature has been around -15. The coldest I’ve seen it during the day since arriving, is -20. I’m told this is not normal for this time of year though and according to the weather forecast, it looks like it’s going to warm up significantly, so I definitely look forward to that. I’m very thankful to have picked up a new winter jacket right before leaving home, I’m starting to learn how important layering is before going outside.

I left home last Monday and arrived in Oslo on Tuesday. My first week here has been pretty good so far. It has involved a lot of down time and readjusting to the new time zone/getting over jetlag. I have done this trip overseas countless times now and I still don’t get any better at dealing with jetlag. I don’t think there are really any secrets to getting over jetlag, other then staying up as long as you can, and trying your best to avoid sleeping during the day. Much easier said than done, but I think once you start to get into a normal daily routine, your body catches up pretty quickly.

It’s very nice to be returning to a city that I’ve lived in before and know my way around. Simple things, like knowing the transit system and a bit of the language, make a world of difference. It’s very evident that Norwegians love their winter sports, everywhere you go, you see people of all ages carrying cross-country ski’s and snowboards. The harsh winter weather definitely doesn’t seem to impact their athletic lifestyle at all.

That’s all for now, look for another update again this week.