We had a training yesterday, and for the day after a game it was ridiculously difficult. Things started off normally with a simple warm-up and about 25 minutes of 5v2. For those who don’t know, 5v2 is a simple possession game that is now the biggest thing ever with teams now for some reason. I personally hate the game, but it’s a laid back game and can be fun at times. Typically it’s just a time killer for me. It’s easier than running all over the place. After that though things got tough.
I should make clear that even though I’ve spent all of my time the past month around Swedish people, I don’t understand a word of what’s being said at training. I’ve learned some key words specific to training, but in general everything’s that is said goes right past me. For that reason I had no idea until it was happening that we were running fitness. We split into two groups: the guys who played 60+ minutes the day before and those who played less. My group (60+) had to run to midfield and back and the other group had to run that twice for each rep. I assumed we’d do 4-5, but instead we did 12! By six or seven I was gassed and by 12 I was barely holding my head up.
After the fitness we split into two teams and played 6v6 to full-sized goals in 4-minute games. My team didn’t do great, but I scored as many goals as anyone so I couldn’t complain. My team was playing with a youth team goalkeeper which didn’t help our cause either. That was the end of training for the guys who played big minutes the day before, but for the rest of the guys there was more fitness in the cards. I didn’t hang around to watch that.
One interesting thing is that in the past few days I’ve started to hear my first rumblings of dissent in the team. This is by no means unusual: In Baltimore we lived to complain and Harrisburg wasn’t much different. What is interesting though in this case is that it’s not people complaining about playing time or style, but instead about the management of the team. Any player would be annoyed by having such a difficult training the morning after a match. It’s just that this confusion in training intensities seems to come at random. I assumed before that the coach was giving the guys some explanation and I was missing it because it was in Swedish, but from what I’m hearing the guys have no clue as to what each day holds. Maybe that’s good for some teams, but clearly it’s frustrating this team. I should be clear that I don’t think this is a problem, just interesting. I thought this team was more contented than the teams I played on in USL, but obviously they’re not. The City Islanders were the 2nd place team in their league with us complaining the whole time so why couldn’t ESK do the same or better?
After training I went on the promised walk. Well actually first I lifted weights but that’s too boring for even this blog. I took some pictures on the walk and I posted them here just to show you a bit of Enkoping. The field you see is our training ground. It’s about 1200 meters from the stadium and we drive there most days for training. There’s a training pitch at Enkoping, but it’s grass and if we trained on it now, it would be ruined in a month. We have to wait for the grass to grow in and for that it needs to get warmer. Hopefully that happens soon. Anyway my walk was nice. I went around the entire town of Enkoping in an hour, so you can kind of get an idea of how small it is. There’s a lot more forest area than I thought, but that’s a good thing because it will make my longer runs around town more interesting. I did nothing else the rest of the day except watch Netflix and Hulu. I’ve started watching Battlestar Galatica so that should take up about 30 hours over the next few weeks. I’m really cool, I know (You can’t argue that. You’re reading my blog!).
Today I’ve done literally nothing other than lift weights about 9 hours ago. The team has today and tomorrow off. Normally that would be an invite to travel around and visit somewhere, but I have almost no money whatsoever. I have no bank account in Sweden, but I only have about $200 so it’s not like I need a super safe place to store my stockpile of cash. As a result I can’t go to Stockholm or Oslo or Copenhagen like I otherwise would have done with essentially 4 days off (we trained Friday morning and our next training is Monday evening). I also can’t go over to Fabian’s house because he, Daniel and Robert are all out of town for the weekend. I took this video in the town today. It's quite bumpy because I was walking so don't watch if you're prone to get a headache from that sort of thing. I hope you realize that in making these videos I look like an absolute creep or crazy person to everyone around. I make that sacrifice for you! I thought about going to the bar tonight, but I’m not nearly cool (or uncool) enough to go to a bar/club by myself. The fact that I don’t speak a word of Swedish doesn’t help, though I’m sure anyone I’d talk to would speak English. Fortunately for me, Netflix exists so the time has flown by. And now I’m streaming a Barcelona game so life is good. Besides, beers here are $10 a pop in Sweden so I’m saving myself some misery by staying home.
I’m going to profile some of the players on the team here this week leading up to our season opener on the 16th. It will be good for the people who read this to have a face to put with the names I rattle off all the time. The hardest thing will be getting the guys to pose for pictures! I’m kidding, of course, as all Swedish guys not-so-secretly want to be male models and dress the part every single day. I will have to work though to get a photo of our assistant coach. He looks like what the dad would look like in a pamphlet about Swedish people. When I get the picture you’ll understand.