The Wedding

Remember in my last post when I talked about non-words-that-should-be-words. One of my favorites is “parent-noid”: when you think your parents are worrying to much.

However, I recently experienced something to the opposite effect. When I was home for my sister’s wedding, my parents were strangely calm; which was contradicts everything that I’ve heard about weddings. We were doing most of the preparations for the 300+ person wedding reception by ourselves; which included food, set up, building a dance floor, a stage, a cake, and of course a cruise ship (well sort of). On top of that my mom essentially remade the wedding dress too. In light of all of this, I expected to come home, less than 36 hours before the wedding, to utter chaos! Things were pretty calm. No one was “parent-noid”. However, I will admit chaos did ensue in the hours prior to the wedding.

It was an outdoor wedding, with no tent, and despite a week of lovely weather prior, the clouds were threatening to open up that day. We had to cover up all the tables with plastic in the last minute and left the hired servers to make final preparations. While we were inside the church witnessing the beautiful vows, it proceeded to pound down with rain in torrential fashion. In the end the rain stopped and we were able to go on with the plan, the reception and dinner was a little delayed and the ground was a little soggy.

In the end, the most important thing was of course that my beautiful sister Clare, who was a perfect bride, was happily married to her new husband Peter…we like Peter too, though he was not quite as beautiful. The party was great, but as the hosts, we felt like some things could have been done better, partly due to the rainstorm and partly due to lack of planning. I think we must have provided enough booze to cover up the flaws, because reports were excellent and everyone had a wonderful time.

Here are some of the photos.

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So, this is where I find a way to connect a wedding reception to a game of football/soccer. No, the booze was not the only similarity! Helping host the wedding reminded me of coming off the field after a successful game, where the team wins and you are MVP (in this case my Mom and Dad, not me). The fans, like the guests at the party, are pleased and singing the praises of yourself and the team (my family). Yet, you still walk off the field knowing that you could have been better. Any player worth his salt will always look back on a game and know it was not perfect. In a way, every successful footballer has to be a perfectionist. If not they would not bother going to training and working hard to improve.

I remember one of my coaches once gave a speech on a similar theme . I don’t remember the details exactly, but the idea was that he had just finished a wonderful game, where they had beaten a big rival and he had scored the all important goal. Everyone was happy, but then his Dad came up to him and gave him no praise. He merely told him that he missed a chance that he should have buried and it would have put the game away. The point being that there is always room for improvement. Don’t be happy with good enough. Learn from mistakes. Always look to improve.

Take a quick look at Messi and Ronaldo. Imagine if they had been satisfied with their first record breaking season. Well, they would have likely faded into obscurity by now. However, they kept working and broke their own records time and again. Now they are considered among the best to ever play the game. They looked at themselves and they knew they could be better and they continue to do so. The feeling of a good performance is an athletes cocaine, it is addicting. Players are constantly looking for a better high. Yes, I’m saying Ronaldo, Messi, and I should go to rehab together.

In a way perfection has no limits. I think this translates to anything in life. In my experience working construction, it is the same way. If I build a house or a piece of furniture, I know all of its flaws. I know which room is not square, which window is crooked, and which floor tile is just off-color. However, when I look at my sisters lovely artwork, I focus on the beautiful landscape or the detailed texture, but my sister can’t take her eyes off the the smallest smudge or error.

In the end, the wedding reminded me that in order for me to be a successful footballer I need to be my own harshest critic. Of course I don’t mean that I will be severely negative about everything. There are always positives and the positives need to be realized and built upon. However, being an honest critic of yourself can be very helpful. Not only can it lead to improvement of a skill – in my case soccer – but it can also improve your humility, which can always use improvement in the sports world.

When I woke up in the morning after the wedding (alright afternoon) with an empty stomach and a swollen head, there was yet another lesson to learn. It was just like after I wake up from a game, but it’s usually a swollen ankle, or knee, not the head. I, a little begrudgingly, was obliged to help with the terrifying job of cleaning up. I can’t tell you how much trash there was. If it didn’t qualify as a mountain, it was definitely a hill. I wish I could share a picture, but it didn’t seem memorable enough to take one at the time. In any case, I spent a large part of that day cleaning up from the awesome wedding. This reminded me that no matter how bad you feel the day after a game, or a party, there is always still work to do. You can’t sit around feeling bad for yourself because you have a sore ankle, pinky toe, ass-cheek, or head. You have to start fixing yourself up so you can be prepared to doing it all over again (yes 12 more siblings = 12 more parties).

Leave it to me to turn a wedding into thoughts about soccer! Maybe the blog should be called no-brain footballer instead? Sorry Clare, but i did think about you and your happiness a little too. In reparation, I am dedicating this post to you and Peter.

I must also note that this is a little deceiving. I am taking way to much credit for the wedding. My parents were the gracious hosts and put in way more work than me, both before and after I came and left. There were also many other people who were incredibly more helpful than me. I’m just making the biggest fuss and the biggest critic!

Anyway, if you have some more thoughts to add or more likely want to tell me I’m an imbecile, please oblige yourself. But thanks for reading.

God Bless you all and don’t be afraid to dive head first.




Ok, so I moved to England…ok.

So, England…ok.

I’ve actually first got here about a month ago, but was home for about 4-5 days for my sister’s wedding (which was awesome), and spent about 2 days traveling back and forth (which was not). In that time, I have got the chance to do some pretty cool things already. However, its a bit different coming here and planning on staying as opposed to visiting, so I haven’t done too much in the way of sightseeing and touristing. I know touristing is not a word, but it should be…I know we all have our favorite non-words-that-should-be-words.

So, England. I am currently staying with some relatives of mine just north of the Bradford/Leeds area. They are my Dad’s cousins and are thus my first cousins once removed and their children are my second cousins. They have been absolutely incredible hosts for me thus far and I can’t thank them enough. I have a host of other relatives nearby and throughout the country that I have both met and who I am looking forward to meeting. I have a rich family history from this area, which makes it even more exciting to be here. My grandmother (another person, I can’t thank enough) was born in Bradford and her brothers and sisters grew up here. Her father, my great grandfather, was actually a Bradford City (who were in the premier league not to long ago) player back in his day and so I hope he can give me a little extra inspiration as well! I got to go to a Bradford City game just a few days after I arrived here. It was great, they have a great stadium and ended up winning 5-1 on the day vs AFC Wimbledon.

Bradford City game at "Valley Parade"

Bradford City game at “Valley Parade”

"Valley Parade" - Home of the Bantams

“Valley Parade” – Home of the Bantams

Geographically speaking, Bradford and Leeds are only about 10 miles apart, and located in Yorkshire, right where the country  starts to get skinny. Its probably about 3-4 hours away from London. See the little map below.

location of Bradford

It’s a decent location for access to teams, but then again, compared to the United States, just about anywhere in the UK is a good location for access to teams. Gone are the 12 hours bus rides up and down the east coast for games. I’ve heard complaints about 1 hour drives to away games. Please! That’s what I’m used to driving for a home game. I can’t complain.

I have spent much of my time emailing, calling and visiting clubs within access of easy public transport. Which is a large number. Most of the bigger clubs, tier 5 and higher I would say, receive somewhere from 25-500 player inquiries a week. So, needless to say, the information from an unproven American, isn’t highly likely to make it to the top of the pile without any previous recommendations. Also, I came over to the country about a month too late, since most of the teams had there rosters sorted out as the season was starting. If I had come before preseason, I would have likely had more opportunities. However, I am slowly making inroads and connections and am confident thus far.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to get out and see some things as well. I went to York which is a very historical and beautiful city. I remember the city from when me and my family visited here about 13 years ago. It is a walled City and has some structures dating back to the Romans. Yes, they also have a football team in League 2 (4th tier) called York City; I would love to get a chance with them. I went to a game, which they won 3-1 against Oxford United in a quant little 8,000ish seater stadium tucked into a neighborhood. It was a great game, in a great little atmosphere; something that is significantly lacking in the US.

Here are a few shots of York:

York River

York Minster From the Wall

York Minster from the wall

York Minster

York Minster

York City Stadium: "Bootham Crescent"

York City Stadium: “Bootham Crescent”

My only purely tourist trip was up to Durham, home to Durham Cathedral, which is one of the most impressive of its kind. It was a massively sturdy structure sitting on top of a hill on a bend in the Weir River. Very majestic and powerfull. It is located up north, almost as far as Newcastle. My cousins were going up for a day trip and generously offered to take me along. It is another very historical place, steeped in history. The castle was one of the most northern strongholds in England, or so I am told. It is also the burial place of St. Bede and St. John Cuthburt. I was able to climb to the top of the main tower and get some great views of the surrounding area, which is historically an agricultural area. It has also been made famous, in recent years because parts of the Harry Potter series were filmed here. Here are a few shots!

The Mighty Durham

The Mighty Durham Cathedral

Looking down to Durham Castle

In the tower looking down to Durham castle, which currently houses student at Durham University!

In the cloister
In the cloister, where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed

And finally! The highlight so far. Going to a Manchester United game at Old Trafford! My cousin William and I got to cheer on the the Red Devils who won 4-0 in Paul Scholes’ 600th game, and the legend himself scored the opening goal. Before the game, Antonio Valencia was given the team MVP award from last season. Although he did not feature in the game. I also missed seeing Shinji Kagawa. Fortunately, though I did get a glimpse of Van Persie out on the field for the last 20 minutes. United was slow to start in the first half, but picked up and dominated the game in the end. It was also the debut game for both Buttner and Powell, both of whom scored: The future looks RED!

The famous Stretford End

The Famous Stretford End

Sir Alex Ferguson Stand

Sir Alex Ferguson Stand

I have to thank my cousin’s husband for kindly letting us use his season tickets for the game! They were great seats!

Aside from that, playing has been my focus. I have been keeping myself as fit as possible on my own and getting used to being here. The support from everybody is what helps me through the lonely work outs.

I will do my best to write something once a week or so, probably less comprehensive than this, but just little thoughts as I go on my way or maybe analysis of a game or two. So, keep an eye out if interested.

I’d love to have feedback on this blog, or on this post in particular…please be honest!

God Bless you all and don’t be afraid to dive head first.