MOSCOW — I guess you really never know where your dreams will take you. Since I got the news that the Women’s Professional Soccer league in the United States had suspended operations for 2012, I’ve been searching for opportunities to play abroad. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several leads, but nothing concrete. There are women’s leagues in Germany, Sweden, Norway, England, France, Spain, Iceland and other European countries, but closed transfer windows, full rosters and scheduling were making it extremely difficult to find a place to play in the coming months.
Then I heard back from a team in Russia. Rossiyanka will face the German team Potsdam in the next round of Women’s Champions League, which takes place in mid-March. I was enticed by the opportunity to play against one of the top women’s clubs in the world and potentially move on to the semifinal round of the competition. Never in my life did I think I would move to Russia to play soccer, but I agreed to go. Then on Friday I got a call that they needed me to fly to Moscow on Sunday. So I was off to Russia, with not much time to plan or reflect on the move, but a good feeling that it will open doors for me and be an important step in my process.
There were a few details to be squared away before I left to fly across the world to Krasnoarmeysk, which is outside Moscow. One was picking up my visa from the Russian Consulate in New York, which was not the easiest task since there are specific forms you need to fill out and specific times of the day you can go to have a visa processed or picked up. Then there are all the minutia to consider — exploring if/how I can use my phone overseas, ordering new cleats and enough gear to play in the the cold from Nike, picking up several prescriptions, notifying the players I have been coaching in technical sessions, and, oh yeah, packing … let’s just say my to-do list was monstrous.
Laying in bed the night before I flew out, I felt a lot more relaxed than when I first got the phone call. I am up for the adventure and excited to get to play games and experience a different playing and training environment than I am used to. I love doing my own training and playing pickup every morning in Clifton, N.J., but I’m ready to get out of training mode and be part of a team again. When I Googled the name of the club, all I found were the pictures and stories of the team playing in bikinis. I think things have changed a bit though (I hope so, LOL). There are four Brazilians, a Swedish player and now three Americans on the team … all wearing our clothes!
I feel fortunate that two other Americans will be making the trip with me to Russia: Kia McNeill and Leigh Ann Robinson. It certainly makes it easier to have friends to travel with. I have no idea what to expect, or even how long I’ll be gone. I do know that we will be taking a trip to Barcelona for some preparation training and friendlies!
More to come as I traverse the globe and experience club soccer on another continent. …