It is official… it is midnight… 12:00 AM July 1, 2012 and my time with FC Energy and Voronezh is finished. I am scheduled to be on the first flight out of here in 6 hours to fly to Moscow where I will have a long wait until my next flight at 2:00 PM to fly to Kiev, Ukraine. I again have a wait, which I will fill by watching the Euro Final, which happens to be in Kiev! Then I will again board one last flight to Budapest, Hungary where I will start another journey. This journey will be very different though… in fact, it will almost be the exact opposite of what I am leaving now. I am meeting up with my buddy in Budapest and we will make our way across Europe to London in time to watch the Canadian and Cameroon national teams in their Olympic battles! In short…I am beyond excited!
These last few days have been chalked full of mixed emotions… it is hard to even try to explain how I feel. For starters, as you can tell, I am very, VERY excited to be moving onto a new chapter and new journey. But, I feel sad leaving Russia and the friends that I have made. If I just had those two emotions, it would be easy to handle, but the last few days here have been anything but easy. Let me try to explain….
As many of you know we lost our last game against Klubanochka. It was our head coaches 65th birthday and the most important game of the season for us because it was out last chance to hold onto 2nd place and thus a bid into the Champions League. Unfortunately, the football God’s did not want to help us out. In the first half of the previous game against Rossiyanka I went to block a ball and the next thing I knew I was on the ground with our captain, Nastya, asking “Normal?? Doctor?? Doctor??” To which I responded (in English) “Give me a second”, which she took as “No, I don’t need a doctor.” So, she said “Da Vy, da vy” which means, “Let’s go, lets go”. And I, not thinking clearly and as usual, stubbornly, continued to play. This was a stupid decision. Needless to say, it turned out that I suffered a concussion and therefore I was not allowed to play in our last match. To top it off, the headache got pretty bad and I wasn’t even able to attend the last match and instead I had to lay in my room anxiously awaiting (sleeping) the team to come back.
So… instead of being able to either bring home a victory or fight a losing battle I was forced to stay home and wait for the team’s return. Which turned out to be a sad surprise when the bus pulled up and I heard nothing but footsteps and doors to my teammate’s rooms close. We lost 1-0. They scored in the first 3 minutes and we were unable to get that goal back…unable to get the season back. And, those two events (getting a concussion, and the loss) basically put a damper on the end of the time here with FC Energy.
The next days after the game were no fun. As I was still recovering and trying to get my headache to go away whilst also getting everything ready for a move back across the world, there was little time to say goodbye. Pack, sleep, eat, sleep, talk to the director and president, sleep, pack, unpack, sleep, repack, go to the bank, sleep, finally eat… it was crazy busy and very stressful. BUT, everything (for the most part) got sorted out and here I am… contract officially finished and I have nothing to think about except getting to Budapest.
OOPS… dozed off… I had to sleep and couldn’t finish the blog…
SURPRISE!!! Change of venue…
Now I am sitting in the Moscow airport waiting for my flight to Kiev. With each step away from Voronezh I feel a little less stressed and a little bit freer. I have truly never appreciated freedom like this before. I don’t have to workout, I don’t have to eat at this time, I don’t have to stay at the base, I don’t have to eat only this food… I AM FREE!!!! My entire life has been conducted within the parameters of the structured routine of the student-athlete… no questions asked and no regrets about it. I gave up so many things that I wanted to do because I had something for school and probably something else for soccer… and here I am for the first time in my life without an exact place to go to next except to relax and recover from 4 months of the most difficult thing I have ever been through. Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to make the sacrifices I have and will continue to make for soccer and for school, but this period of rest is something I have never experienced before, and I intend to enjoy it.
Like I was saying in the beginning… about the mixture of emotions… now sitting here in the airport, feeling the full extent of my freedom and getting excited about traveling and seeing my buddy, it is hard to feel any sadness about leaving. In all of the craziness I didn’t get to say goodbye to many people whom I wanted to give a proper goodbye to. Many of the girls from Russia took off as quickly as possible, the Cameroons left to meet up with their national team to prepare for the Olympics, our coaches were busy getting all of our documents ready and in the end I felt a very abrupt ending with the people I have spent the last 4 months of my life with… all except 3. Whom I made sure to give proper goodbyes to… Ximel, Tanya and Eurina.
Last night I was able to say goodbye to Tanya and Eurina before heading to bed, a couple long hugs and kisses on the cheeks and holding back some tears. Then this morning at 4:30 Ximel and I parted ways at the tiny Voronezh airport… and that was that.
I cant believe it was just 4 months ago that I was sitting in the Dulles airport cheersing you with a beer and saying goodbye, and here I am sitting on the floor of the Moscow airport cheersing you with a dixie cup of coffee from a vending machine to say goodbye to Russia. What a journey it has been. Even though I say, JUST 4 months ago, I really cant say it went by quickly. That seems like a hell of a long time ago...
I just reread this blog and I think it seems scattered and probably a bit shallow or emotionless… but the truth is that there are actually too many emotions to try to process in writing. I feel happy to be moving forward, sad to be leaving, confused because of the concussion, stressed because of the abrupt ending, relieved I am finally done and so many other things all in one. All I can say is that here I am… finished with my first professional football experience. It wasnt everything I imagined, but it was the experience of a lifetime. I hope I wont have to go through anything like I did here again. I am proud beyond words for the strength I found in myself to get through it and I believe I am stronger for it. But I am so happy that this period of ferment is finally over and I can move forward to hopefully apply the lessons I have learned to my life and my future.
I will continue to blog if you continue to read and share in my travel experience. I am in the process of making another video for all of you to see… but here is the first part I have put together... it is a compilation of my experiences in Russia. Let me know your thoughts!!
If you would like to see more pictures you can look on my facebook to see
For the last time….
Nastarovia (I wish you good health)
Speciba balshoy (thank you very much/for everything)
Das vi danya, (formal goodbye)
Paka, (informal goodbye)
Da vy!!!!! (let’s go!!!!)
and just for good measures…