A Soccer Player's Journey Across the Globe

Going from club soccer in New Zealand to college soccer in the U.S. can be quite an eye-opening experience. Hear from Max Chrétien about it all.

Soccer in New Zealand is physical, competitive and for me it was an important part of my everyday life back home. 

Due to the country being small, New Zealand doesn’t have its own professional league. There is only one professional men’s soccer club in the country. Unlike Europe or other parts of the world, this makes the pathway to a professional contract unorthodox and the lack of systems in place mean that you must pave your own way. 

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Going back to the where it all started, I was born in Cork, Ireland before moving to the small town of Claremorris in County Mayo where I lived for the first five years of my life. My parents had moved from Belgium and my mum had me and my two brothers in the span of three years.

We didn’t have a lot, but I always remember kicking a rugged ball with my brothers in the front garden. There was always a ball at my feet. I remember I used to kick around a small soft ball inside, I would take it with me from my room to the kitchen, from the couch to my bed; I just couldn’t get enough of it.

I’ve always had a natural curiosity to travel beyond the borders of Aotearoa (New Zealand). My parents were first generation immigrants from Europe, and as soon as I finished high school, I knew I wanted to travel. One of the biggest differences I recognized between the two countries is that the infrastructure, facilities, and resources for soccer in the States are top class.

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In the fall of 2018, I committed to a competitive D2 program located in Western Illinois. Unfortunately, only after a few months I was forced to urgently fly home for a medical surgery.

Between my injury and the pandemic restrictions, I had to stall my return to the US for a few years, but I’m stoked to finally be back pursuing my dreams and playing with a historic university based in San Francisco. 

Playing for one of the most successful teams in collegiate men’s soccer history is something special. The program has been rebuilding the past few years and now we have a team that can compete for the conference title and beyond. We have a diverse group of lads from all over the world that share a positive and welcoming culture and environment. The coaching staff is top tier and I love working with the group day in and day out.

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Being young, fit, and full of energy I’ve been able to play football while also getting an education the past few years. I am also in graduate school here in San Francisco which has allowed me to render my soft skills and feel out the workforce in the United States. One way I am currently making money is by coaching lots of talented growing kids in the city; I’ve found that work to be very fulfilling.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to play with a club team in San Francisco who compete in the semiprofessional league here in the U.S. I saw this as an opportunity to get my name out there and to show people my skills and interest in continuing playing beyond college. We ended up having a great season and I played a big role in the club’s success.

In just 12 matches I led the team with 9 goals and 5 assists, bringing the club to the conference semifinals. I got to travel up and down the west coast with top NCAA Division 1 players and work closely with an amazing coaching staff. The season prepared me well for the current fall college season and I made close mates along the way.

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Between my college and club play, it’s important that I replenish my body with sufficient foods. For someone like me with a very high metabolism and work rate, peanuts are a great option because they deliver both 7 grams protein and 12 grams good fats per once ounce serving. One of my favorite snacks is peanut butter and banana on a bagel, paired with warm brewed coffee.

Being a college athlete is a unique and rewarding experience. The institution sets athletes up with professional systems that not only allow me to excel in soccer, but in everyday life. While our athletic commitments may limit other aspects of my life, I find that working toward a common goal with my teammates and coaches is a very satisfying experience.

I can't wait to get started with these boys and show everyone what we have in store this fall. If you want to join me on my journey, follow me on Instagram!  

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