Having played soccer in Norway, Denmark and three seasons in Australia, I consider myself somewhat of a veteran overseas player.
I enjoy playing soccer in Australia because the culture isn’t too different from the U.S. It doesn’t seem like you’re too far away, though you really are. The time difference will remind you if you forget. What is difficult for me is knowing that, ultimately, I’ll be leaving. I live a life of a lot of goodbyes as each season comes to an end. So how do I invest and make the most of my time without letting the knowledge that I’m only there for a short time cause me to detach?
Most international players will stick to themselves and can often be found in their rooms or on FaceTime with their family and friends back home, but I really try to make the most of my time overseas. I try to go out and enjoy the present, making my time there count.
It’s easy in our day and age to surround yourself with people who are similar to you. As a professional soccer player, I’m typically around young, athletic women. Through my experience traveling, I’ve met a lot of people who are very different from me. Church in Australia is different from church in the States. Everywhere I go is a unique environment. Learning about other cultures makes me realize there really isn’t one right way of doing things most of the time. Just because we drive on one side of the road in the States doesn’t make it wrong to drive on the other. It may be uncomfortable for us, but it’s not wrong.
In the same way, we are called to love everyone regardless of what they look like or where they come from. I’m thankful I’ve been able to make friends and get to know Christ-followers from other countries. I’m able to learn from them — how they were raised in the faith and how they experience God. These experiences give me more dimension for my own faith.
God came down to earth to meet everyone, not just the people who are like you. He gives everyone a call to make disciples of all nations. In Jesus’ ministry, He embraced the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. He ate meals with everyone in between. Similarly, we are called to love and spend time with people who are different from us — whomever God puts in our path. We’re all created equal; we all need Jesus.
— Aubrey Bledsoe, NWSL’s Washington Spirit goalkeeper
Aubrey Bledsoe is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Aubrey’s profile on The Increase: https://theincrease.com/author/aubrey-bledsoe/
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