Wednesday, December 10, 2014

100th Post

video

As I continue building for the New Year, my training is ongoing on a daily basis. At the moment, I’m putting in sessions everyday; usually twice a day. In the coming weeks, I plan to write more about my daily experiences and how I go about preparing for the upcoming season.

Yesterday I trained twice. In the morning I worked on some finishing (check out the video above), which is always a very enjoyable thing to work on. Unfortunately my camera died during the session, but I still managed to get some clips for the video. In the afternoon, I was doing some strength training in the gym. I love training and trying to find new ways to make myself a better player. There are so many different things to do, which is part of what makes it fun and exciting for me.

Keep watching the blog for more posts on my training regime and hopefully more videos soon. I will also try to post some other posts on some new things, including some boot reviews, etc. I have been so busy this fall between my personal life, my own training and coaching, it has been hard to keep up with writing on here - but I plan to change that starting now!

By the way, hard to believe this is my 100th Blog Post on this site. I started this blog what seems like a lifetime ago. I believe I started writing regularly around 4.5 years ago, in my first season in Norway. It’s crazy how time flies! Thank you to all who have continued to follow me on my adventures over the years. It is very interesting to see that there are readers from all around the world that check out the blog on a regular basis. As always, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave comments on my posts and contact me through my email on the side. Thanks again and here’s to the next 100 posts!

-Robbie

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Big Changes!

I think I’m well overdue for an update on here! It’s hard to believe it’s been over 9 months since I last wrote on here. Saying things have changed a lot since my last blog post would be an understatement.
First of all I have a huge personal announcement! My life completely changed this past spring, as I proposed to my incredible girlfriend Laura on May 30th. So I’m very proud to say we are now engaged and will be getting married this upcoming summer! It was the best day of my life without a doubt. I have never been happier and am so fortunate to have such an amazing, supportive partner to share my life with.


And now from where I left off from in my last blog post… I did have some great experiences training in Germany and Austria. Another highlight was definitely seeing Bayern Munich play live. However I decided to head home and pursue opportunities closer to home. I signed with USL PDL club Washington Crossfire, based near Seattle. This meant over two hour commutes each way, from across the border in Canada to get to training multiple times a week. This quite often meant leaving for training around 4 PM and arriving home past Midnight that same night. I also managed to hold a coaching job in BC at the same time and had to find a way to balance the two different opportunities. It was challenging to say the least. However it was good to get some games in.

Following the season, Laura and I headed back to Europe for a three-week trip around Scandinavia. It was nothing short of spectacular. We flew out of Vancouver in early August on IcelandAir (my airline of choice). I usually try to fly IcelandAir for multiple reasons and have had many layovers in Reykjavik. However for the first time we arranged a stopover there, so we could have a chance to check out outside of the airport. We absolutely loved our two days in Reykjavik. It is a very special place! Some highlights included visiting the world famous Blue Lagoon (geothermal hot springs) and walking around the city centre. I would love to have the chance to explore outside of the city one day. Hopefully next time ;)



We then headed back to my old stomping grounds in Oslo. I love Oslo. It has always been a special place to me, ever since my first visit there as a five-year-old. It had been exactly two years since I was last living/playing there. It was a pretty crazy feeling to come back with my fiancé. Things in my life now are so different to when I was living there. It was amazing showing Laura around the city, discovering new places and showing her around my old favorite spots. I returned to one of my old club’s Kjelsås to do some training while in Oslo. It was nice to see some of the guys and they were definitely surprised to see me again! 


After a few days in Oslo, it was time to head to Stockholm for our first visit there. We hopped on the train (for an incredibly cheap price) and made our way to Sweden. Sotckholm was very different to Oslo. We loved exploring Gamla Stan (old town) and biking around the waterfront near the city centre. 


 From Stockholm we headed back to Norway (via two trains) and arrived in Trondheim (further North) to stay with my family on their farm there. It was great to see my relatives there. Without them, I never would have ended up living or playing in Norway. I’m going way back in time here, but the background story is, in 2010 I first came to Norway to play after looking for a change from playing in the UK. I got in touch with my relatives at the end of my English season to see if I could come stay with them while trying out for some clubs for a few weeks. They helped me to call multiple clubs and set up trials before I signed with FK Bodø/Glimt in Northern Norway. It was so good to see them again, I feel like I’m staying at my home away from home when I’m with them. I’m very thankful for all they have done for me in my life. I had another training stint set up with local club Stjørdals/Blink while staying there. After a few days staying with them, we then headed North to Bodø.

It was time to jump on another long train ride and head North of the Arctic Circle. Looking back on it now I have to admit I was a very brave 19-year-old when I did this the first time. I remember my relative Håkon, calling Bodø/Glimt’s coach to see if I could come for a trial. We were sitting in the living room and he was speaking Norwegian to him of course. I had no idea what he was saying and when he got off the phone I was surprised that the coach invited me to come up for a trial. That night I booked a flight for the next day and I headed off to some town in Northern Norway, that I had never heard of and knew nobody in. I couldn’t be happier that I got on that flight. In all my years playing, that year has been my favorite. It was an honor to play for a huge club like Bodø/Glimt and I made some lifelong friends there. It feels special everytime I go back and I was thrilled to get to show Laura around there. It was great to see some of my old teammates there and I also had a chance to go and train with Bodø/Glimt for two days while I was there. Stepping out on the stadium field again was a very cool feeling. 



Finally we headed back to Oslo for a final couple of days before heading back home to Vancouver. Overall it was an incredible trip and we can’t wait to head back. I’m excited to continue following my dreams playing the game I love and even more excited that I now have someone special to share those dreams with. I’m not going to say much now, but I will be pursuing more playing opportunities in 2015. For now, it’s all about preparation as I train daily to get myself ready for what’s to come. I’m thankful for all the last 9 months have brought in my life and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. Between a wedding, future travels and playing opportunities, it is bound to be the most exciting year of my life. 





Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bayern Munich Vs Freiburg






I had the chance yesterday to experience a Bayern Munich game at the Allianz Arena. After watching countless games at this arena on TV, it was unbelievable to see a game live here. Bayern dominated the entire game and we had the chance to see some great goals. The ability of the players was phenomenal. All the little things they do is something else; their first touch, the movement of the ball and passing combinations. The game finished 4-0 for Bayern over Freiburg. The atmosphere inside was also something else. The fans are so passionate, it was so loud inside that it was hard to hear the people talking beside us. I have been fortunate enough to witness some great games in Europe during my life. I've seen Manchester United play at Old Trafford, AC Milan play at the San Siro, Celtic Vs Rangers in the Old Firm Derby and quite a few more; but this definitely ranks up there as one of the best I've seen. Such a great day and experience! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Innsbruck!

Today I had the opportunity to go into the nearby town of Innsbruck and I was very impressed. It's a very beautiful city and you can see why it has such a good reputation. It was about a 20 minute drive from Schwaz to Innsbruck, so not far at all. One of the players was nice enough to take my roommate Raq and I in for the day to see the city centre and also drive up the mountain for a view of the whole city. The view definitely didn't disappoint, as we could see everything in the city. Innsbruck has hosted the Olympics twice and you can see the Ski jump along with other Olympic monuments. We were able to see the famous Golden Roof in old town and all the other famous sites around the city centre. I definitely hope to get a chance to go back again soon and explore the city some more. For now I hope you enjoy my pictures!

Robbie.


 











Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Schwaz, Austria

After a few days in Austria, I have to say I'm a big fan. This is a beautiful city and a great place to be. Schwaz is a small town quite close to the German border and not far from Innsbruck. I don't think there are many more than 15,000 people living here. The football has been good so far. The standard is very high and there are many talented players in the squad. I have enjoyed the intensity of the training sessions and the coaching is very good. I have trained everyday this week and enjoyed my time so far. I'm joined here by another Canadian, Raq, who I have played with in the past at home in Vancouver. It's definitely nice to have a familiar face around. I have to admit it's pretty funny walking around town here, as we get quite a few strange looks. I think with this being a small town, everybody knows everyone and it is obvious when someone new is walking around town. As we were walking to the mall today between training sessions, we noticed a car go by and the people inside looking at us. As we turned the corner the same people were approaching us and started speaking German to us. I responded that we only spoke English and they stated they were with the police and asked to see our ID's. We were both pretty taken back by this and as we pulled out our ID's, they asked what we were doing here in Schwaz. As soon as we explained we were here training with the local team, they said OK and sent us on our way. Very strange experience to say the least... But it definitely confirmed to us that we stand out here. Tomorrow is a day off and we will be heading into Innsbruck (the closest large city) to check it out. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the city has to offer. It will also be nice to give my legs a rest after a lot of training sessions this week. Overall it has been a good week in Austria and I only have good things to say. Hope you enjoy a couple pictures and videos I've taken so far. It's difficult to hear me talking on the videos as it was super windy when I took them... But anyways, you get an idea of what it looks like here. Enjoy!

Robbie.














Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guten Tag

Hello from Austria!

I've made it safely across the border to my hotel in Austria. It is very beautiful here, the town is very picturesque. It is a small town surrounded by snow covered mountains on either side. The winding streets are layered upon various hills in the city. The streets are made of cobblestone and surrounded with very old architecture; its obvious there's so much history here. I will certainly post more photos later. Tonight for dinner was my first time trying wiener schnitzel. It was very good! The hotel I'm staying at is very comfortable. I haven't had a good chance to explore the city yet, as it is Sunday and everything is closed. However I'm sure I will find some time during the week.

My first week back in Europe has been a good one. I really liked it in Germany and could end up back there still after this week. I'm just taking it one day at a time and seeing what happens. I was able to explore Munich another time yesterday and see much more of the city the second time around. Germany is what I expected it to be. The people are very friendly, direct and organized. Things must be done the way they are set out to be. Driving on the autobahn to training everyday at crazy speeds, was quite an experience. It feels like you are going fast, until a car goes flying by you at 200 km/h!

One of the stranger experiences here for me happened as soon as I arrived. I walked off the plane half asleep and while waiting for my bags at the airport, I stepped into the men's washroom to find a lady standing just inside. Thinking it was closed for cleaning or something, I was about to walk away, until another guy walked by me. I noticed the bathroom was definitely not closed and she was working in there. She was cleaning and some people were giving her money. After asking someone later on, I found out this is normal here; but it seemed very strange in the moment.

Many people here smoke and cigarettes are readily available from vending machines around town. I'm sure there is a legal age for smoking, but it wouldn't be hard for someone underage to get their hands on some cigarettes. When I was in downtown Munich, I went into a video store to try and find some DVDs to entertain me during my off-time. I went to purchase the TV show "Lost" and to my surprise as I was paying, I was asked to show my ID if I wanted to buy the movie. Seemed pretty weird to me that they were more concerned about people buying a DVD, than cigarettes. I know that it wouldn't be hard for anyone under age to walk into a pub and get a beer. I have regularly seen people walking around the streets with a beer in hand. Something you don't see at home...

The culture is certainly different here, but I have to say that everyone I have met so far has been very welcoming. Anyone from random people on the street, to the players I trained with, have been really nice and excited to hear more about Canada. Being abroad and telling people you're Canadian is a great feeling. Definitely something to be proud of. All that people usually have to say are positive things. It's pretty cool that everybody either has, or wants to come visit where you come from.

Now that I'm in Austria, I'm excited to see what everything is like. I won't be able to form my opinion in less than a day, but hopefully this week will give me a good chance to see many different things. I can't wait to start training with a new club tomorrow. This is my first time ever in Austria and so far everything looks pretty incredible. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to another country through my soccer. Playing the game I love has taken me all around the world and allowed me to experience things I never thought possible.

Robbie.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Beginning

Hello from Deutschland!

I have arrived safely in Germany and day number 7 of the trip is coming to an end. All is well so far and I'm enjoying my time here... Let's rewind a bit and start from the beginning.


I left home in White Rock last Saturday and started the journey with a drive down I-5 to SeaTac Airport. It was a tearful goodbye at security, as I left my girlfriend and parents. Sitting at the departure gate, I was excited to get going but also sad to be leaving behind my loved ones. It was certainly a day of mixed emotions. After boarding the plane, we were informed that the entertainment system was out of commission. Usually this wouldn't be a problem, as my laptop is ready to go; but unfortunately my laptop battery also decided to die. It made for a long 7.5 hour flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. I have never been the best sleeper on planes, and as this flight left in the afternoon, that didn't change. I managed to get maybe 30 minutes of sleep. Upon arriving in Reykjavik, I realized as we touched down that I only had 20 minutes until my flight to Munich was leaving. As I frantically got off the plane, I looked for my gate on the screen and it read "Last Call". Somehow I managed to make it there just in time. I got on the plane and we were up in the air again before I knew it. It actually worked out quite well. From Reykjavik it was a 3.5 hour flight to Munich. I arrived Sunday around noon.


I have trained everyday this week since arriving. My first session was on Monday and I definitely had very heavy legs and was feeling the jet lag. It was just a technique session. These first days after travelling are always tough to get through, but I find I always feel much better the next day. Tuesday was my first chance to train with a team here in Munich. The level was very good and I was impressed with the individual ability of the players. Every single player is very good technically. So comfortable on the ball and they know how to play the right way. The training sessions are run very efficiently. As it is "pre-season" right now for the clubs over here, there is a huge emphasis on technique and fitness. I like the way the coaches incorporate both of these into the training sessions. We are usually split up into separate groups and will go and work on different aspects of training at separate times and then switch stations. This makes for much more touches on the ball and makes the overall sessions much more effective. I have trained everyday this week and felt better every single day. My sleeping pattern was kind of all over the place during the first couple of days. It's starting to get back to normal now, which is helping for sure. I feel very comfortable with the level here. I like the way that they play and have enjoyed the training sessions so far.


During my time off, I have been mostly relaxing. I'm staying in a small town about 30 minutes from downtown Munich. I had a chance to check out the city yesterday and have a quick walk around. It seems like a very interesting place. Germany seems different to anywhere else I have played. I'm looking forward to having more of a chance to check it out.


The first week is always a tough one. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss home. I miss my incredibly supportive girlfriend and parents. I have been speaking to everyone back home regularly. Luckily there is FaceTime and iMessage. Although it's hard, I came here with a purpose and goals to achieve. Without support from everyone back home, I don't know if I could do this. Between missing loved ones, jet lag, being in a foreign environment and playing surrounded by a language you don't understand, among other factors; it is never easy. But I've been through this so many times before, that I feel accustomed to it now.


Now that week one is in the books, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next week. I feel very good physically, after training everyday this week. The training I've done with the club in Munich has been very helpful to help me prepare for what comes next. Next week I will be heading to Austria to train with a different team. I'm excited for the opportunity and looking forward to seeing how it goes. I've never been to Austria before, so it should be interesting to check out another European country on and off the field!


To everyone back home, I miss you and appreciate the support more than you'll ever know. Expect another update soon. I have taken so many photos already, so look for many more to come on here.

Robbie.






Monday, January 6, 2014

My Next Adventure


2014 - a new year, a new challenge. I will be heading to Germany on February 1st to train with some clubs. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and very excited to be returning to Europe. I last played in Europe during the 2012 season, after spending last season in North America. I have definitely missed all that comes with playing in Europe. The level of play, professionalism of the clubs, and the culture that surrounds the game over there are on a completely different level to North America. It has been a goal and dream of mine to play in Germany for a long time now. I hope to have success on the field and sign for a club for the remainder of the season once I arrive.

Since returning from Florida this fall, I have been on the soccer field pretty much 7 days a week. I have been coaching full-time in the greater Vancouver area. I love coaching and have been very fortunate to have some great opportunities to work with young players while I’ve been home during my off-seasons the past couple of years. I also attended the US Soccer National Youth License Coaching Course in Seattle last month. It is my plan to continue working through my various coaching licenses while still playing. I have been training hard individually. I have been working with a personal trainer weekly and I’m happy with the results I have been achieving. It has been great to spend time at home with my family and take time to enjoy the holidays. Now with less than a month until I depart on this new adventure, I will be looking to take my training to the next level and really push myself to be in the best condition possible for next month.

Although I haven’t updated the blog much lately, I will be looking to do much more regular updates when I get back to Europe. I hope that you will follow me on my latest travels.

Happy New Year!


Robbie.