Playing for the National team and representing your country is something special. Something that every athlete strives for in their career. I had the honor to represent Latvia in not just one sport but two. Rugby and soccer.
It’s kind of hard to explain how much it meant for me and how blessed I was with the opportunities I got through the time. From taking part in several European Championships and tournaments for 10 years. Oh and the places I got to travel to, people I got to meet. Memories and friendships is what I’ll keep close to my heart forever. Such a gift and blessing.
Why I’m bringing this up? Well…
Few months ago I played my last game for Latvian Football national team and I’ve decided that it’s time to hang up my rugby boots as well. At least for the National team. I had not missed a single European Championship since my first one in 2007, in Bosnia. So for 10 years in a row, I wore that red and white jersey with a lot of pride. Except one which I had to skip due to injury but I still was on the team as a manager. There was no way I would have missed it at the time.
I was never the most skillful person, either in rugby or soccer but I had passion and willingness. That is what kept me in the game and helped me to achieve lots of success. When your playing depends on your emotions and passion then it’s easy to burn out and that’s what happened to me. As a player I’ve burned out, just don’t have anything left in me and different circumstances in both sports just kept pushing me further and further away from playing.
I am an impulsive person and I will always follow my heart. Before anything, I always choose to do what makes me happy at that exact moment. Right now, coaching is where my happiness comes from so I’m giving my whole heart to it. I don’t want to miss out or be in it on 90% because of me playing rugby and losing energy on that. I want to give it my 100%. So I will.
Yesterday, as I was coming back to Latvia from a tournament in Estonia, I told some of my players that they are invited to the U-17 National team tryouts this coming up week. One of those girls bursted out in tears from happiness. That is how much it meant to her. That’s the way it should be for everyone though. It was her dream and she was hoping to get that chance one day. Oh, and the joy I got to see. Such a priceless moment because I saw myself 10 years ago through that reaction she had. True spirit and true passion in a young lady, that just loves the game of soccer and the country that she comes from. Without a doubt, she will make the most of that opportunity. Like I did for the past 10 years.