Week 4 - Routine

Sunday, 15th of March 2015

Now that I have been in Madrid just over 5 weeks, plus my first week which was spent in Rivas just outside the city, I have settled into somewhat of a routine. I want to give a glimpse of what it is like on the day to day for me here, since it differs so much than anything I have done before.

 

Monday through Friday I have Spanish class at 10am, so I wake up at 8:30 to eat, get ready, and study before leaving to walk to class at 9:30. Class goes until 1-1:15 depending on how quickly (and correctly) I finish the last few exercises. Then I walk somewhere to eat some lunch before walking to take the 30 minute metro ride to Rivas’ office in Madrid. This usually puts me in the office from 2:30 to 3 at the latest where I will work until 5:30 on Women’s Futsal Cup preparations, which I will talk about more next week. Then I head back to the metro (I am learning to love public transport...) to take it back home which is another half hour ride. This puts me back in the house at a little after 6pm where I will get ready for training and eat.  At this point in my day I finally have some downtime since I don’t have to leave for training until 7:30. Training doesn’t start until 9pm, but we have to get there early to change and be ready to play at 9. We finish anywhere from 11 to 11:30, so I normally get home after midnight eat something (the Sarmientos always leave me dinner which is unbelievable and much appreciated) and pass out.

 

The mornings and afternoons are pretty constant, on the days off of training I just swap it out for studying and sometimes studying via application, which just means meet some people for a cerveza or two. It’s a schedule that keeps me busy, but I think it is a good thing.

 

And I can’t forget about the weekends! We always have our matches, which most recently was a very nervous win 4-3 at home (one step closer). And then the day we don’t have a match I usually try to do something fun. I went to the Copa de Espana this past weekend and saw the two semi-finals.  My coach, Ramos, invited me to an Atleti match the weekend before. Sometimes though I just relax and go to the park or something.

 

Next week I will talk more about the exciting things USA Futsal has going on these days as well as give the update on Rivas!

 

Thanks as always, hasta luego!

 


Week 3 - Tactics

Sunday, 8th of March 2015

Two more weeks and two more wins for the team! The weekend of March 1st the team won 9-2 and this most recent weekend we stole a 7-1 victory. Momentum and excitement are building as Rivas 95’ is now just 9 points away from securing promotion! Although I have only been here a short time I am very proud and honored to be a part of this club. The structure and support generated within the club is incredible. After last weekends match, the first team all got food and drinks at the cafe in the facility then we all stayed to support and cheer on our alevin team (Champions of this past World Futsal Cup). 
Everything is coming along as far as my experience goes. My improvement is very gradual, and I only wish it could move faster as I am not the most patient person in the world. I almost don’t even realize the difference from a month ago. But then after sitting down and explaining to someone I just met what I do or understanding the rules of the game we are about to play at training (my personal favorite), I realize the improvement is there and it is very exciting. I just need to keep working at it.

 

This past week at training we played a friendly against Brihuega. It wasn’t a regular game though as it was broken up into 4 quarters of 10 minutes and the score would reset. It wasn’t about winning or losing (although of course it was extremely competitive), but more about focusing on situational tactics. Ramos told me,

“Es bueno practicar diferentes aspectos del juego como el 4x3 o el 5x4 contra otros equipos porque encontramos diferentes situaciones que no se dan jugando contra tu propio equipo.

Essentially that it is good to practice tactics against other teams so we get exposed to other situations (or systems) that we wouldn’t see if we only train against ourselves. We practiced playing both with an extra man or down a man, so defending when we have 4 and they have 5, then switching. Then defending with 3 against 4 and switch again. It was a great learning experience not only for practicing our tactics, but also seeing the level of a team that is doing well in the division above us.

Don't miss next week when I will get into what a typical day is like as I am now more settled into a routine, which I think will only help moving forward.

As always, thanks for all the support!

 


Week 2 - Learning from the best

Sunday, 22nd of February 2015

Yesterday we had the closest game I have seen since I have been here. We only won 3-2 which made for a very crazy and hectic final few minutes. However, a wins a win and so far that is all I have witnessed from the team since arriving!

It is obviously a fantastic team with a great mix of players and personalities. But let me start with my first training sessions, which were less than spectacular to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever been that player that continually breaks down the sessions before. So this was a new feeling/experience for me that I did not enjoy at all. And the most frustrating thing wasn’t that I couldn’t do what I needed to ability wise necessarily, but that I simply wouldn’t know the parameters or restrictions of the drill/game we were playing. I would always make sure I was at the back of the line or started as a sub so I could watch and try and pick up the rules before playing, but sometimes it wasn’t that simple. For example, it could be a regular game with one touch unless a certain movement or play happened, then everyone became unlimited. So just knowing that’s what the deal was and then trying to figure out what the movement is and recognize whether my team, myself,  or  the other team did it, was very difficult. My teammates are very helpful and patient though and now that it has been a couple of weeks, I am seeing things we’ve done before and hearing things I have heard before so it’s getting easier.

The level and intensity at training is always very high. My coach David Ramos Barragan demands it and obviously knows what he’s doing as he has been involved with futsal for years, both playing at the highest level and now coaching. I am extremely fortunate and grateful that he is genuine when it comes to him wanting to pass along his knowledge (and practice his English…), so it works out for both of us. Between what I have learned in Spanish and what he knows in English we can eventually figure out what each other are saying. But when at practice and addressing the team it’s always Spanish.

Speaking of the language barrier, I started class last week which I think is helping a lot and will continue to do so. I have it five days a week for just over three hours a day and I am enjoying it immensely so far.

Stay tuned for next week, and as always thanks for all the support!


Week 1 - Poco a poco

Saturday, 14th of February 2015

First off I cannot thank USA Futsal, in particular Rob Andrews (President), and the club C.D.E. Rivas '95 enough for this incredible opportunity. Having arrived in Madrid for the first time ever January 30th, I have had a lot of first impressions these last two weeks or so that I would like to talk about. And so far, they have all been great!

D3Rivas '95 has been unbelievable with making me feel welcome from the moment I stepped off the plane. From the President (Carmen) and VP (Gallo) who have been amazing in helping make this transition for me as smooth as possible, to the players for the benjamin team, who seem almost as excited to practice/show off their English with me as I am to be here (if that's even possible), and everyone in between! I love the support and camaraderie among everyone involved in the club. It's really a great atmosphere to get to become a part of. I can imagine it will only get better once I can understand and join in the conversations and banter!

The first couple of days I stayed close to the clubs office in a hotel at Rivas to do the press presentation and sort out some paperwork. My housing situation changed from Guadalajara, about 30 minutes outside Madrid, to the dead center of Madrid with the wonderful Sarmiento family. Their home cooked meals and view are probably 2nd to none in Madrid. I can't express how grateful I am for them. It couldn't have worked out any better! I am not even a block from the metro or bus and within walking distance of Puerta del Sol. Not to mention Parque del Retiro virtually IS the backyard of the apartment. Plus I am able to walk to my Spanish class.

I definitely had to adjust to the way the days are here as far as the timing of meals and everything. With lunch being at 2 or 3pm and dinner at 9 or 10pm. Although since we train at 9pm I eat a snack earlier and then “dinner” at midnight or so when I get back. Needless to say my first impression of Madrid as a city has been incredible. Especially coming from Oviedo, FL and never having really lived that big city life before (I have to say it might suit me).

10978535_1674824486078223_3889820045818309186_nMy favorite thing that I've done in my spare time, along with exploring (really just aimlessly wandering) the city, is go to a 1st division futsal match and an international friendly (or at least as friendly as a match with two red cards can be). I am writing this before "El Carnaval" tonight, however, so that favorite thing could change... But regardless, I've seen Inter v El Pozo, Spain v Argentina, and Inter v Marfil Santa Coloma live.They have all been extremely exciting, entertaining, and educational as I am learning more and more about the Spanish style of futsal. And the best part is I will be able to continue attending these matches.

There have been some obvious obstacles as well, mainly the language barrier as expected. Which was more of a problem at training knowing which play we are doing, than it was out and about accidentally ordering a different type of croqueta than I wanted. I am picking up some of the essentials here and there and know some common words for playing that would have been impossible not figure out almost immediately. When you’re teammate tells you to change players (pass on your runner), but you just stay with him and it ultimately results in the other teams goal. You realize pretty quickly what, “Cambio!!!!” meant. But the team has been great about teaching me the language and their system, which I will go into more next week. As for the language I have no doubt this Spanish class will help accelerate the learning process.

Needless to say, everything's getting better each day. And as my coach and team tell me, "Poco a poco", or, "Little by little". I also want to thank everyone for the support and wishes from back home, it really means a lot!

Make sure you check in with me next week to talk all about futsal!