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!

Meet The First American To Get A Pro Contract In Spain (Via Futsal Focus)

David Dodge recently became the first American to sign a professional futsal contract in Spain! The UNITED FUTSAL product is set to finish the 2014/2015 with Rivas 95 of the Spanish Segunda B Division. Rivas 95 currently sits in 1st place at the mid-year break and seeks to be promoted to the LNFS 2nd Division at the end of the year.

See more at www.futsalfocus.net/news

Week 1 - Poco a poco

Saturday, 14th of February 2015

First off I cannot thank UNITED 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!