There are a lot of really great players out there... thousands upon thousands. So how are you supposed to stand out from the rest, and really make it in football?
The answer to this question lies in my journey.
Around age 15, I had an opportunity pop up. I was offered trails at Nacional AC, a professional Brazilian team in Sao Paulo. For reference, it's the club that Deco came from. It was a great experience that in the end didn't pan out in my favor, and for a long time I used to see getting that trial as something that was justified, after all, I was a top player in my city, why wouldn't I get offered something.
Now that I'm older and a tad bit wiser, I look back on that opportunity and I actually chalk it up to something like "luck" because I wasn't really looking to go pro in Brazil, the opportunity sort of fell into my lap. Clearly I'm grateful for it, yet almost 10 years later, I've learned my response after the Brazil experience holds a huge secret to actually making it in the soccer industry. It's a big one that I don't see many players doing. It's something that I've called Active Future Achievement, or more simply "putting yourself out there."
Ok, so hear me out. I knew some players who were invited to a trial at a young age. Though they were really skilled they didn't pick up an offer/contract from the opportunity. After that, they played soccer for a few more years, then sort of grew out of it and ended up getting "real" jobs, partying a lot, or just resigned to playing recreationally. They thought, well if that didn't work out, then I guess I'm not good enough!
The problem is that they didn't even give themselves a real chance at their soccer career. In my perspective, hoping to be invited to a trial after a good performance in a tournament is basically like rolling the dice on your career. Going to a showcase is definitely a step up from wishing on a star, and yet it's still about 1000 steps down from what I'm going to share with you.
Fast forward 8 years and I'm sitting here, having played for a nationally ranked school, playing in Germany, and now found myself being really successful in Australia (more awesome updates on that to come!).
It turns out that all the people who didn't give themselves a real chance, they didn't end up putting themselves out there, they didn't (actively) chase the dream.
Three quotes to ponder on:
"Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond." -Ramakrishna
"To be vulnerable - to really put yourself out there, and lean into it - is to live courageously." -Brene Brown
"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful." -Eric Thomas
What I think of when I read these, it boils down to this: If you really want it, you have to give in to it, surrender to that need, and do every single thing you can in order to achieve it. Actively seek out success in the future, and you're much more likely to achieve it.
It's easier said than done, but I'll tell you, I didn't end up with a full scholarship by chance. I reached out to every single coach of every Division 1, Division 2, and NAIA school that I could before getting it. When I was in Germany, I also reached out to so many clubs (potentially 100+?) just to hear back from a small percentage and later be able to trial with about a half a dozen teams. I gave my best performances at some trials and clubs STILL said no (learn more about rejection here soon!). It was only on my last day in Germany, that I was invited to a second trial at Vikt. Kelsterbach. I even had to change my travel plans a day later so I could attend the trial. It was there that I was offered a playing deal.
After my change of focus, moving to Australia was another challenge. Again, I honestly reached out to HUNDREDS of coaches, club representatives, and anyone I could in order to get myself noticed and to see what opportunities were available - it's just like any other competitive job in the market, you're battling with hundreds of fantastic candidates with potentially better resumes than you, so you a) can't sit on your hands and wait for them to come to you, and b) have to make yourself stand out.
If you want to stand out and make this beautiful game into something of a career, you're going to have to grind for it. It takes deliberate, active effort, to even get a shot at increasing the probability of success. You can do it. You just have to work that extra bit. Trust me, the rewards at the end of it are worth it.
If you need a hand, I'm happy to chat and help you out!
I love helping players optimize their soccer careers + lives through actualizing their potential.