Hi Teammates. I have spoken many times about staying professional even when the circumstances around you are not. Today, I would like to give an example of one of my clients and how she handled an extremely unprofessional and potentially threatening situation. 

She recieved an offer in a European country and would be leaving her home country (also in the EU) for the first time as a professional. The money was very low, but that was not a deterrent for her. After leaving her last team in her homeland, she needed to get back to playing and accepted the challenge of going to a foreign country for the first time. I advised her on the deal after we checked a few things out.

On a side note. You can do all the checking and everything in advance of going somewhere, but you will never KNOW until you get there. I checked the contract with her and there were some points I advised to be changed. They changed those points and the contract seemed legit. Flight, salary, shared apartment with WI-FI, 2 meals a day, and a bus pass. Ok, let’s get it…

Now I will break down this experience for my client. I was in constant contact this whole time. She stayed for 2 and a half days! It started actually with the flight. They booked the cheapest flight possible which meant she had to fly from her homeland to another EU city where she had a 5-hour layover, then to the city where she would be playing. Ok, you can look past that. Let’s get it…

She lands, and the coach picks her up. She should be staying 4 and a half months and has a big luggage piece and a smaller bag. Her male coach does not offer to take anything from her and is in a rush. The walk to the car takes 15 minutes and only the last 200 meters does he say, “Give me the bag so we can get there.” Ok, maybe he is just in a rush. No biggie. Let’s get it…

Once in the car, the coach proceeds to down-talk the level of play in my client’s game film and indirectly insults her about how she plays. This is not normal for a coach to get to know a player but whatever. He must feel the strength of his players and the league is very good compared to where my client was coming from. Let’s get it…

Then my client realized why he was in such a rush. They had to get to the restaurant where she would be eating by 2 pm. She was supposed to go there each day to get lunch but had to be there by 2 pm at the latest. Normally, not a problem, but then she was told that the restaurant was over an hour from where she would be living. She would have a bus pass to travel but because it is a big city, it would be closer to 90 minutes…each way!

Next comes the living situation. Note, my client is Muslim. The coach shows a house where the American and other girls on the team live. But she is not staying there. She is staying in an apartment with the COACH…and his male cousin!  This would be an unacceptable situation for any female player.  My client told me there is no way she can explain to her family where she is staying.

Not to mention that the room was small, the bed smaller, and the television was an old box type (no flatscreen…no Netflix) that could only get channels from the country and language they were in (and my client doesn’t speak that language). The coach also gave strict orders on what is allowed to eat from the refrigerator. And on more than one occasion, the coach walked into her room without knocking to get something. There is no more “Let’s get it” at this point, but this is not the end.

At practice that first evening, my client got to see how the team was. She was shocked, to say the least. In her opinion, it was not very good considering what the coach had to say in the car. We expected the level not to be as good as it was in her home country, but for it to be that low was unexpected. My client started to feel like this wasn’t the right place for her. Usually, most players can put up with SOME issues off the court as long as the ball is going well…but in this case, it just wasn’t possible to overlook it all.

We spoke at length and in the end, she decided to leave the team. I was also in agreement with that because there is no way she would have been happy there for 4 months if she was already unhappy after two days. To make a long story short, she ended up booking her flight back home. The team was of course not happy, but that part of the story will be in another blog later.

I just wanted to show you that even in the face of unprofessional circumstances you can remain professional. My client went beyond that. She spoke with the team, and she did not complain but made it clear that there were boundaries that she would not cross. She remained respectful at all times although the team made it difficult. You can only worry about what you do and say, not what others do and say. 

Take care of yourselves, Teammates!

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