Happy Holidays

Happy holidays to everyone, Wishing you all good health into the New Year.

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Making free time productive

I have recently purchased several books on Strength & Conditioning.  Now my free time consists progressing my way through the text books.  Looking into enrolling in a home study style degree in the subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have any other books you would recommend? Feel free to leave a comment with the title of the book

Knowledge is power.

Nomadic life so far..

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Some people may be aware of how somebody from the small rural town of Alnwick, Northumberland England has ended up making a living playing football in 3 continents all at the age of just 24. Others however may have no knowledge of how things have turned out. It was a close friend of mine who suggested if I had thought about starting a blog as people maybe be interested as it’s very uncommon to find an English footballer applying his trade outside of the UK. So here is the story so far.

The thought of packing a bag and moving far away from your friends, family & other home comforts may daunt most people but this is something that hasn’t phased me from an early age. I think coming from an expat family as a small kid living in Nigeria, Africa and seeing my dad work abroad my whole life I have been comfortable with change and travelling.

Rewind to 2009, this is where my Nomadic football career started. I suspected that my club at the time Bolton Wanderers would not be renewing my contact. On the look out for a new club…an opportunity presented itself which appealed to me. MLS side Chicago Fire were interested in looking at me, a city where I have friends this seemed like a perfect situation, however a recurrent injury prevented my successful try-out lead into any contract offers. Then shortly after a similar situation with San Jose Earthquakes another MLS club. The complicated rules of the MLS prevented other clubs being able to look at me so it was back to the England. From this moment I was certain that playing abroad was something that I wanted to do no matter what.

A few unsuccessful trials and contract’s falling through came before my next opportunity Israel, in the Middle East. The first thing that comes to most peoples minds when they think of Israel & the Middle East are bombs, terrorism and generally a hostile environment. However in my short spell there for Sektzia Ness Ziona that couldn’t have been anything further from the truth.

Playing for Sektzia Ness Ziona

Playing for Sektzia Ness Ziona

I quickly became fond of Israel as a country, with their very nice friendly people, their great cuisine, it took a little time to get used to living in a Jewish state rather than a Christian country. Not seeing Christmas decorations throughout December was something that I found strange. Although my time in Israel was very brief duo to visa situations and so on, I still got the chance to visit a few of the tourist destinations, the Old Town in Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. One place I never got the chance was to float in the Dead Sea. But I would welcome another visit / opportunity in Israel…so who knows maybe next time I can get to visit the Dead Sea.

View from Jerusalem of Bethlehem in Palestine with the Israeli West Bank Barrier

View from Jerusalem of Bethlehem in Palestine with the Israeli West Bank Barrier

The Western Wall in the Old Town Jerusalem

The next stop of the nomadic journey roughly 6750km away from England, destination Puerto Rico in the Caribbean the birthplace of Reggaeton & Jennifer Lopez. A new look to the 2011 USL PRO league was to see 3 franchises from Puerto Rico be introduced to the 2nd tier of the American Soccer System. The team Sevilla FCPR, a sister team to the La Liga side Sevilla FC based in Juncos. The team was made up predominately of American’s with a half-dozen Puerto Ricans. Along with playing in the USL PRO league, Sevilla FCPR also to play in the Puerto Rican Soccer League.

Living less than 1 mile from the beach, in a gated community with other members of the team it was a relaxed lifestyle and a chance to bond with new team mates off the field something very different from Israel. Although a Spanish-speaking country, living with all the Americans on the team it felt like we were in an English-speaking country.

Relaxing down at the beach after morning run

Relaxing down at the beach after morning run

Relaxing down at the beach after morning run

Relaxing down at the beach after morning run

Training in the evenings most players would have a long lie in…Instead of wasting the day a morning run down to the beach a swim in the Caribbean Sea, drinking some fresh Coconut water then a run back to the complex…to find everyone still asleep. Our free days normally were spent down at the beach kicking the (soccer) ball around and generally just making the most of living in a vacation destination.

Sadly my time in Puerto Rico only lasted 3 months and with me not playing a competitive game as all 3 Puerto Rican teams folded from the USL PRO league within the first 10 games duo to financial trouble with the other 2 teams on the island. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the Caribbean met some great friends who thanks to Facebook have stayed in touch with them and kept updated on their adventures and careers also.

Watching the Champions League

The next and current adventure of my nomadic life is here in Poland. Currently I’m in my second season with ILiga team Polonia Bytom. Closer to home and also more importantly after the last 2 clubs no visa issues could affect me from signing for the club. Life in Poland has its similarities and differences to the two previous countries Israel & Puerto Rico.

I’ve found again that people tend to be friendly and are really passionate about football and their team. I have previously visited Poland twice before in 2004 & 2006 so I had an understanding of how life was here before I moved. Unlike Puerto Rico where the majority of the team were American so English was spoken in the dressing room I have had to learn and understand the Polish spoken from team members. Something I would admit I could be a lot better at but I quietly understand a bit more than other people on the team think.

Homemade Zurek

My homemade żurek

Polish cuisine is something that I enjoy, with the increasing number of Poles living and working in the UK it is becoming easier to try the food either in the special section in large supermarket or a small polish ‘Sklep” I recommend if you get the chance to try some cuisine. I have even tried to cook my favourite dish “żurek” and now I know how to make it I will make more regular. So during the winter break I will make it back home so family and friends can try it for the first time.

About 40km away from my apartment is the town Oświęcim (Auschwitz.) Living very close to the former concentration camp I think it is important to visit the 2 camps there in Auschwitz to pay respect to the terrible things that happened there. I took my family the last time but I am planning on going back to take a better look around.

Life in Poland is going well, I am learning the language….slowly and enjoying my time both on and off the pitch. Over the last few years on my journey I’ve found that being able to adapt to the way of the life in each of the respective country has been vital. To embrace the culture, food, religion and everything else that makes up that particular country to make the most of a new experience and lifestyle.

So who knows where the next stop on the journey will take me, one thing I know is I’m willing to take my talents anywhere… So for now the Nomadic train has stopped here in Poland…Next destination only time will tell.