Sunday, March 4, 2012

MYPA a "no go" means I'm looking west

March 4:

We all know the drill at this point…I was not offered a contract by MYPA.  I didn’t post yesterday because I didn’t have any news and I figured no one reads this anyway so nobody got left hangin.  If you were on eggshells waiting for me to post, well then I’m very sorry.  Bad news can always wait though, right?

Now I’m in a very uncomfortable situation.  My Finnish agent doesn’t at the moment have anything for me and I haven’t heard from the Swedish agent I work with in 10 days or so.  That means I’m stuck sitting in Myllykoski, Finland with nowhere to go.  I can’t take a trip, because at any time one of the agents could call and I’d need to get my two huge suitcases and two smaller bags and go.  But sitting here isn’t gonna do me any good either.  The only good thing about being here now is that it’s rent-free.  If I had to pay for a hotel for a week out of pocket it would ruin me financially, so I’m pretty much stuck here until the next trial comes along.

Now you may be wondering two things: 1. Why are you not getting signed by these clubs if you think you’re doing so well? and 2. What are you doing to help yourself?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

In all three of my trials now, I have been let go not for a lack of ability, but instead for a lack of fit within the team.  Now don’t get me wrong, ability does play a role.  If I showed up at any of these clubs and was head and shoulders better than everyone, then of course the club would find room for me regardless of how I fit into the system.  However, I’m not that player.  In fact I don’t think my game could be less suited to a trial.  I’m super fast, but when I first play with new teammates they almost never adjust right away.  Often my first couple of games with new teammates will feature a ton of underhit through passes or mistimed runs for offsides and so on.  Unfortunately, in a trial those first two games are always the only thing the coach sees.  Since a striker is almost required to score on his trial to be offered a contract, I’ve been put in a tough situation because I am virtually incapable of creating my own goals.  I’m more Darren Bent than Lionel Messi.  It’s ok, I accept that I won’t be the most talented player on every field I play on, but I do feel that I can be very effective at this level.  I don’t know if I mentioned a trial I had last fall in Sweden, but it was with a team called GAIS and they finished 5th in the Allsvenskan, which is the top league in that country.  They told me the exact same thing that all the Finnish clubs have said.  To paraphrase, "We like you and you're good enough, but we have no need for a player like you at this time."  The reason I mention that trial is because I did just as good or better with that team as I did with any of the Finnish teams I trialed with, even though the Swedish team was a clearly higher level.  The reason is that better teammates make me more effective since I rely on quality service from the players behind me.  Maybe if I get a trial in Sweden I can put that theory to the test again.

As for what I’m doing to help myself, I’ve started an email campaign that would embarrass even the most ardent self-promoters.  If you want to know who I’ve emailed, look at the league table for Norway and Denmark’s top division, start at the bottom and work your way up to about 7-10th in each league.  If I don't hear from them, I'll start emailing the second division teams starting from the top down. I haven’t emailed all the teams, partly because these email addresses can be quite hard to find, but at least 40% of them have gotten or will get an email in the next 3 days.  It seems crazy, but professional sports teams find players this way.  If you think that a top division Norwegian team getting an email from me and then offering me a trial is farfetched, I put one question to you:  How big do you think these teams’ scouting budgets are?  Most of the teams average 5-8k a game and put the majority of that revenue to player/coaches salaries.  The scouts probably aren’t going too far other than the occasional trip to a neighboring country.  An email from me is a free player with almost no downside for the club if they are indeed looking for my position.  I offer to travel to them out of my own pocket just for a chance.  Hopefully it works out.  I’ve also emailed a friend or two who may be able to help.  Sadly (I prefer humbly), I’m not above begging!

So now I wait.  I honestly don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  There are a few realistic things that could happen in the next week:  I could go on another trial in Finland (probably the Veikkausliiga, but I would consider the 2nd division here if the city of the club was nice), a trial in Sweden, one of the clubs I emailed in Norway or Denmark could call, or less realistically Jaro could decide that I’m better than the new trialists they have and ask for me to come back.

The biggest comfort I have in my situation is that I have such a strong base of support.  My mom and dad are nothing but wonderful and encouraging.  I won’t make them do it, but they would support me financially and emotionally if I wanted to stay in Europe and keep taking tryouts for the next 7 months.  I also have great agents working for me both here in Finland and in Sweden, not to mention my actual agent in America.  Those guys have done a great job and had I been a bit better, we could have toasted a contract long ago.  I’m sure they’ll find a good place for me.

I can’t say when my next post will be.  If I end up leaving tomorrow it may be 2-3 days before I can settle in somewhere and put out a new post.  Or I might just be sitting in Myllykoski and have nothing to say.  You’ll know when the next post hits the presses!  Til then wish me luck.  I need it!

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