Ny Tid Ny Strid

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

These words come from one of the wisest and best footballers I’ve ever played alongside. Lisa Ek was my teammate in 2012 for Kopparberg’s Gothenburg FC. I have loosely translated this from her Swedish blog.

When I was six years old, I said that I would become a professional soccer player in Italy and play for the Swedish national team. My dream to be on the national team has brought out the best in me in many ways. I've been training like a madman, I have always been motivated and I have fought my way back from five years of injuries with rehabilitation. I have given everything for the team I've played for, partially for selfish reasons-- because I know that if the team feels good and is good, I have a greater chance of success. I have been traveling all over the world and won matches with players who have been like a second family to me. In the 26 years of my career I have truly lived because I have chased my dream. I have met people. Oh what people! The finest and the best people you could wish for. People who have been a part of my everyday life, and who are still a big part of my life. And for that life, I thank the dream.

With the dream has come demands on myself. I never thought of it as a requirement, it just felt natural to run additional sprints every preseason, to train my eyes by watching my thumb, to do mobility exercises for two hours every day to optimize performance, to rehab many hours a day during the five years that I was injured, to analyze all my matches and to constantly search for new ways and new research that could optimize my performance. I have loved the journey. I have loved to optimize but for awhile I have had an insight that I cannot ignore.

I can not take more. I have done everything to reach the national team. And then I did a bit more… but life decided otherwise. I was not destined to reach all the way. It was the journey that was the goal, and my task was to demonstrate the benefit of daring to dream.

I made a last effort last fall. The year before I had been injured and away from football for a year and a half. I went into the venture aware that I could not afford to miss a single workout. Shortly thereafter I injured my hip and could not take a stride for 10 weeks. My body gave up. Once again I had to fight myself back just to keep afloat, not to progress. When my other teammates were lifting weights, I worked hard just to be able to lift my own body…just as I had done previously, for the five years that I worked hard rehabing, far from the football field. The only difference was that this time I lost the urge.

I can no longer double work… To do extra to keep me afloat and then the extra premium to optimize. I can not chase performance anymore. Now I just want to play. And people are playing in other places.

I have always believed that the most courageous thing to do is to follow your dream. I never thought that it required even more courage to let go of a dream and let another take over. To look at yourself in the mirror and say "damn good job! You did everything. You made some. And you held out for 26 f***ing years. It is time to set yourself free!”

It feels crappy sad. Bye dream of the national team, have a nice day! There is an emptiness now and I will certainly feel lost in the beginning when I do not have the light eminating from the blue and yellow jersey that has led me for so long.

I am painfully aware that I no longer have anything to give or take in the environment I find myself. To continue here without the dream would be to continue without momentum. It would be to go to work and collect salary. To be here, but without optimizing, it's not me. That will never be me. And it is not “Booyah” against anyone, not the club I represent, my lovely teammates nor myself. After 26 years of struggle I owe myself more than that. I owe it to myself to let my second dream begin. A dream that for 26 years has stood sideline and watched as I look like a crazy person directing all my focus towards the national team. This dream is to play football abroad.

I feel selfish because I do not want to leave a team in the middle of the season but I know deep down that it is the best for everyone and that it would not be good for anyone to have an Ek without momentum.

I know I'm living on borrowed time. After recent knee injury, they said that I could never get back to the football field. I wander around like I am walking through a minefield, and I am grateful for every week that I can play football. When my body breaks down, and that is the end, I want to feel like I have released myself free and have followed the dreams that I want to follow. That I have experienced what I want to experience. . . Now, I'm ready for another country, and I’m hoping another country is ready for me!

She says, “I have always believed that the most courageous thing to do is to follow your dream. I never thought that it required even more courage to let go of a dream and let another take over…” Perhaps it is just as courageous to share your story.

Caught... In A Moment: A Photo Journey

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This article originally appeared on The Player's Tribune. 

I am always moving.
Pit stops... rest stops... refueling...
Trying to fit in.
My lifestyle demands flexibility.
And wherever I go...
...There I am.
With this job, I have the power to do what I want.
But like everyone else, I get caught up in the fray.
The smiles you see...
Well, they come at a cost.
Behind closed doors, the work begins.
With the people and places I love far, far away...
New friends and favorites begin to surface.
Just in time to leave again.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
But I've learned to bring the things I need with me.
My calm. My commitment. My game.
Wherever I go, there I am.