A football player’s journey from around the world to America
Football in New Zealand is physical, competitive and for me it was an important part of my daily life at home.
Due to the small size of the country, New Zealand does not have its own professional league. There is only one professional men’s football club in the country. Unlike Europe or other parts of the world, this makes the path to a professional contract unorthodox and the lack of systems in place means you have to chart your own path.
Going back to where it all started, I was born in Cork, Ireland before moving to the small town of Claremorris in County Mayo where I lived the first five years of my life. My parents had left Belgium and my mother had me with my two brothers within three years.
We didn’t have much, but I still remember kicking a sturdy ball with my brothers in the front garden. There was always a ball at my feet. I remember I used to kick a small soft ball indoors, I carried it with me from my bedroom to the kitchen, from the couch to my bed; I just couldn’t get enough.
I have always had a natural curiosity to travel beyond the borders of Aotearoa (New Zealand). My parents were first-generation European immigrants, and as soon as I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to travel. One of the biggest differences I have recognized between the two countries is that the infrastructure, facilities and resources for football in the United States are first class.
In the fall of 2018, I committed to a competitive D2 program located in Western Illinois. Unfortunately, only after a few months, I was forced to return home urgently for medical surgery.
Between my injury and pandemic restrictions, I had to delay my return to the United States for a few years, but I’m thrilled to finally be back to pursue my dreams and play for a historic San Francisco-based university. .
Playing for one of the most successful teams in college men’s soccer history is something special. The program has rebuilt itself over the past few years and we now have a team that can compete for the conference title and beyond. We have a diverse group of boys from around the world who share a positive and welcoming culture and environment. The coaching staff is top notch and I love working with the squad day in and day out.
Being young, fit and full of energy, I have been able to play football while studying for the past few years. I’m also in graduate school here in San Francisco, which allowed me to put my soft skills to good use and feel the workforce in the United States. One of the ways I currently make money is coaching many talented growing kids around the city; I found this job very rewarding.
Last summer I had the opportunity to play with a club team in San Francisco that competes in the semi-pro league here in the United States. I saw this as an opportunity to get exposure and show people my skills and my interest in continuing to play. beyond college. We ended up having a great season and I played a big part in the success of the club.
In just 12 games, I led the team with 9 goals and 5 assists, taking the club to the conference semifinals. I was able to travel along the West Coast with the best NCAA Division 1 players and work closely with an incredible coaching staff. The season has prepared me well for the current fall college season and I have made some close friends along the way.
Between my college and club games, it’s important that I replenish my body with enough food. For someone like me with a very high metabolism and work rate, peanuts are a great option because they provide both 7 grams of protein and 12 grams of good fats per one ounce serving. One of my favorite snacks is peanut butter and banana on a bagel, served with hot brewed coffee.
Being a college athlete is a unique and rewarding experience. The institution sets up athletes with professional systems that not only allow me to excel in football, but in everyday life. Although our sporting commitments can limit other aspects of my life, I find working towards a common goal with my teammates and coaches to be a very satisfying experience.
I can’t wait to get started with these boys and show everyone what we have in store this fall. If you want to join me on my journey, follow me on Instagram!