01/09/2013 7:52 AM
Not so long ago Bellingham United F.C. announced their partnership with Dutch side VV Zwammerdam. We are very excited to announce even more news on that partnership regarding Hammers midfielders, Brendan Quilici and Sean Connor who will be joining VV Zwammerdam at the end of January for some pre-season play.
The two midfielders became a hot commodity for Hammers fans last year repeatedly feeding strikers like Kellan Brown and Andrew Weishaar the ball, most of the time resulting in goals and Bellingham United wins. I caught up with both of them recently to get an idea of how they are feeling about this exciting opportunity to take their skills overseas.
When you were named to Bellingham United FC last year, did you ever expect an opportunity like this to come about?
Sean Connor: Honestly no! I figured it would take years to create international relationships with other teams. For this to happen in the inaugural year is very cool and says a lot about upper management of the program. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity.
Brendan Quilici: I never thought an opportunity like this would come about when I started playing for Bellingham United. I was just excited about having the opportunity to play at a higher level than a lot of the men’s leagues offered around here
Are you nervous at all to be playing in a country where English isn't the first language?
Sean: Soccer is the universal language. Of course, The Netherlands will be an entirely different culture, but football is football and it's just a game. Look at some of the best teams in the world (which of course is Manchester United!). They have players from different cultural backgrounds and speak different languages and are still very successful.
Brendan: It is a little nerve-racking thinking about not being able to communicate with some people because they don’t speak English, but the overall excitement of the experience outweighs that nervousness.
What part of the trip are you most looking forward to?
Sean: Playing soccer in another country at this high of a level has always been a dream of mine. Having the opportunity to step on the field and take my first touches in Europe will fulfill that lifelong goal--that is what I'm looking forward to most.
Brendan: I’m most looking forward to getting back out on the pitch and seeing the style of play that teams in the Netherlands play with. I’m really interested in seeing the way a team in a different country train and the style of play they play with.
How are you guys feeling about the upcoming Hammers season?
Sean: Last year was a successful season--making it to the semi finals. I'm feeling confident that we learned a lot in that first year. We have a great group of guys that get along very well on and off the pitch. I hope to continue improving as a team and having a 2013 PCSL season filled with even more success!
Brendan: I’m really excited about the upcoming Hammers season. The inaugural season was pretty successful but we still feel we under achieved a bit and we are looking forward to getting out there and trying to win the league and the playoffs. Also I’m looking forward to getting back out and hearing the roars of the crowd because the fan support we had was phenomenal.
What things have you learned during your time with BUFC that you plan on integrating at VV Zwammerdam?
Sean: Playing for BUFC really taught me to be a confident soccer player again. I struggled with injuries over the last few years and BUFC was really the first time since my sophomore year in college I felt 100%--I owe much of that to Lance (Calloway) and Scott (Caldwell) for believing in me as a player. I hope to have that confidence playing on an unfamiliar team and I hope to make teammates around me better players.
Brendan: Since this was the first year of BUFC all the players and coaching staff had to get used to playing with each other as well as learning what the coaching staff expected from us and how they coach. Being able to learn these things I think will help us try and integrate into the VV Zwammerdam team and allow us to play with a new team and coaching staff as best as possible.
In the end what do you hope you'll be able to take away from this experience?
Sean: I've always believed that as a player it is important to be coached by different coaching styles. It makes you a more well-rounded player and person. I have no doubt that the Dutch method will be something entirely new to me. I hope to learn and keep growing as a player. I also hope to grow as a coach and as an individual so I'm able to help develop young players into good soccer players and great people.
Brendan: In the end I hope to grow as a player and as a teammate. This experience will allow us to see other ways of playing and will allow us to get better as players. It will also be a great experience of meeting new people and building friendships around the world.