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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sports In Translation (2): Advice for Soccer Players Going Abroad

Remember all of the hours, hard work, and determination that it took for you to receive this sports opportunity? Well, you will need to use this formula to guarantee success with your cross cultural experience.

The moment, that you accept the invitation to take your athletic endeavors abroad, is the moment that you have set into motion your pre-trip planning. Your travel plans include more than simply packing a bag and securing the necessary travel documents.

Take the time to consider the following questions:
• What do you know about the culture of the country that you will be traveling to?
• Are there any customs that you should be aware of?
• Do you know of one or two persons who reside in your designated country or city that you can call upon for advice or assistance? (These individuals should be outside of your sports team contacts within the country.)
• Are you able to fluently speak the language?

When putting together your action plan for your overseas athletic excursion, your first goal should be to have a strong network of support in your destination country. It may seem like a tall order, but it is not an impossible task.

Technology and the shrinking of the global community have allowed people to connect and share information. In order to obtain some of the basic information about a particular country or culture, you can read the content on travel web sites such as Frommer’s and Lonely Planet. Both of these organizations publish books with detailed information on particular regions and cities within a country. However, I find that the user responses, on their country specific web pages, are extremely helpful. This web content allows you to read up-to-date experiences from travelers who have been where you are going.

Armed with the information gathered from these travel books and sites, you can have a starting point from which to have a familiarity with the transportation systems, neighborhood characteristics and cultural selling points for your designated city. However, tourists’ perspectives, albeit helpful, do not provide you with a full understanding of a place or its people.

A great starting point for building your international support team is your own network of associations. Does everyone in your circle of influence know that you are embarking on this amazing, athletic endeavor? If not, it would be wise to tell them, and inquire whether they have people that they know who are natives of the country or have traveled to the place where you will be going. You will be amazed at the referrals that may come your way.

I had to be reminded of this all important resource when I was blogging my footvolley experiences from Barranquilla, Colombia. Although I had made a slight mention to a few people in my network that I would be heading to Barranquilla, I didn’t fully publicize the trip. I figured that my Colombian connections were next to zero. However, a social network update about Barranquilla yielded a comment from one of Facebook friends. She was excited to learn that I was in Barranquilla because her boyfriend was born there, and his entire family resides in the city. It was a lesson learned.

Sports In Translation is now available as an electronic download for $3.99 on

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