When I was packing to leave I packed all of the essentials...some sweats, my favorite cleats and shinguards, my running shoes and some other random things. I was banking on a training uniform, some new cleats (because mine are quite worn) some runners and what ever else I would need to play. I will just say it flat out....I did get all of those things but lets just say it was not exactly gear from UP.
Pictured here is my rather fitted training kit... As I signed my contract without being seen by the Russians, they probably assumed that I was built something like Abby Wombach because I received size 10 mens shoes and size XL shorts. But the shirt is size small...?
You cant tell by this picture because my hands are in the way but if I were not to be giving you two thumbs up, you would see some nice pit stains from the players who used that uniform prior to me. Even after washing the jersey multiple times it smells rather dank.
However, it is not too bad because the jersey never gets shown... and here is why. The Russians, as we all know, live in a very cold country. I am assuming that the common cold is rampant there because they take a lot of precautions for keeping healthy... and by precautions I mean layers of clothing. For practice we must wear the above seen uniform layered under some 3/4 pants and a sweatshirt, layered under some pants and a rain jacket, with gloves and a hat.
If we were in Russia or even the morning training at the Rush's "Center" it would be great... but we are in Turkey where it is 65-70 degrees every day. It is clear to me why the jersey smells the way it does. After our warmup run the first practice I went to take off my rain jacket (because it was a blue sky and warm) but was told "NO, NO" as my jacket was being zipped back up by the assistant coach. By the end of practice I looked like a raisin and my lips were outlined in white. After that first day, when I unzipped my jacket a puff of air blew out the neck hole right into my face... I actually coughed because of it.... I learned after that first time that if you pull the jacket over your head the smell goes towards your feet instead of your face.
Before I left one of the coaches at the Rush, Carlo told me "Do not be disappointed by the equipment, its not like here"... boy was he right. I am lucky I brought my cleats because I would have paddles strapped to my feet if I were wearing the ones they gave me. It is probably something like this for Lebron James or other professional athletes...right? I would guess that their jerseys really stink because boys smell worse than girls...
But in all seriousness, I say all of these things with a big smile on my face because I am being paid to play soccer (in some comfy clothes), travel the world, learn new languages, experience new cultures and try new things... what more could a professional want?
We have our first game tomorrow against a team from Kazakhstan, I will be sure to let you all know how it goes!