Welcome back everyone to a new season at Stoke City! I am sure many of you are relieved to see the football free weekends this summer behind you and look forward to what this 2014/2015 season may bring. I am very excited to be back with my column for the second year and Asmir and I look forward to sharing with you over the next few installments our experiences of a very exciting World Cup in Brazil this past summer. There has been plenty of positive development in my Dressage training and competitions as I look ahead to the next phase in my training, as my horse and I work our way further up the levels. Most certainly the phrase of being ‘back in the saddle’ applies to both football and horses!
With the recent arrival of new members of the team, it is obvious that they could bolster what could be Stoke City’s most promising squad since their promotion into the Premier League. I for one know Asmir is feeling very confident with this year’s squad and is optimistic for great things for Stoke City this season.
Writing this introductory column for today’s season opener against Aston Villa has been a great opportunity for me to reflect on the progression both Asmir and I have made in our respective careers since my first ever column last year. We are both ever grateful for the opportunities that we have to participate and develop our passions in football and dressage especially with all the friendships formed along the way. All though it can be challenging at times to have two professional athletes in our marriage, there are plenty of wonderful people we get to meet along the way in our journey together.
Bosnia’s Brazilian Adventure
After taking a short break post Brazil, Asmir was pleased to be re-united with the Stoke squad at their pre-season training camp in Germany. This was no doubt a familiar environment for Asmir, having spent over 6 weeks of his summer living in close quarters with his Bosnian teammates. They ate three meals a day together and spent very little time apart which served its purpose of maintaining team camaraderie and spirit which was obvious on the pitch. The Bosnian National Team looked in fantastic shape and ready to go from their arrival at their training base in Guaruja near Sao Paulo.
Nothing though could have prepared me for the difficult separation from Asmir during this period. This was easily the most challenging aspect of the World Cup for any of the player’s and their families, but on reflection it was a small sacrifice to make to see Asmir stand proudly along side his teammates in some of the most spectacular stadiums and atmospheres in the world. It was a privilege for my family and I to be in Brazil during the group stages to support Asmir in the World Cup and there are plenty of experiences and memories that I will cherish forever. It most certainly was an adventure especially when there were unexpected changes in schedule at the last minute that found us scrabbling to keep up with the team as they moved from city to city. The Brazilians colourful and welcoming culture was something I will never forget and a highlight of the trip. As there just isn’t enough print space to share it all with you now, I look forward telling you all about it with exclusive behind the scenes stories and photos over the next few installments. So here’s to hoping for three points today as I sign off on my opening column of the season. Till next time…….