July 9, 2014
DeKALB - On April 10, 2014, NIUHuskies.com announced that former NIU Huskie and English Youth National player Amy Carr (2010-13) had signed a professional contract with IL Sandviken in Bergen, Norway to play in the 1. divisjon, Norwegian for the “First Division”, the second tier of women’s soccer in Norway.
Playing its season from April to October, the First Division takes a break midseason to allow players to recoup from the grinds of league and Norwegian Cup play. Currently, IL Sandviken is undefeated with only one tie to its credit is hunting for a bid at promotion to the Toppserien, Norway’s top division of professional football.
Carr, NIU’s first-ever All-Mid American Conference goalkeeper selection in 2012, came back to DeKalb last week for a visit, before heading back to England for a week and finishing the season in Norway. Carr caught up with NIUHuskies.com for an #NIUSocialSummer exclusive Q&A before a training session with goalkeepers coach Connor McKee on July 1 to talk about her professional experience in Norway and reflect on her time at NIU.
Question: Talk about your overall experience and how it’s been in Norway so far.
Amy Carr: It’s been good, I mean it has not been easy. Definitely moving from England to the U.S. at 19 was a million times easier than this. I think the main thing is I’m now in the real world, it’s now my job, it’s not just like a part time thing and it’s all my responsibility now. There’s no one to bail you out of any situation. There’s all this admin staff at NIU, there’s all your coaches, your professors that will literally dig you out of any hole that you get yourself into or put things on a plate for you, but it’s literally all you (professionally). Which I don’t mind, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s definitely the real world with soccer as a little treat on the side.
Q: Have you been able to explore Norway and the community at all in your downtime?
AC: So Norway is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we’re in the second biggest city. So you’ve got Oslo which is the capital and then we’re in Bergen so we’re ten minutes out from the city, there’s a like big fish industry, so it’s all like fish markets, all like cruise ships come in and so we’re a five minute walk to the ocean. We’re surrounded by mountains that people come in and travel, like people literally come in just to climb the mountains that are at the bottom of my street that I live on so location wise it literally couldn’t be any better. We do get a little bit of downtime sometimes for like recovery sessions we’ll walk up mountains which I’m not sure is a recovery session, because it’s like a two hour walk. But yeah we do get downtime and then we get to see a bit of the country, we fly to away games, we actually got a ferry to one game as well. So yeah we get a plane in the morning of the away game and then fly back in the evening so it’s a long day for away games, but home games are literally at the bottom of the hill. I live on top of a mountain basically.
Q: How has your experience at NIU helped you to prepare professionally?
AC: I think being away from home definitely prepared me for like the tasks and just being able to deal with different situations on my own. Like here (at NIU) my coaches, professors, and administration do stuff to like help me out, but at the end of the day I’m here on my own and if anything does go wrong I’ve got to sort it out. So I think that it’s good that in that sense I don’t just have my family to run to and I definitely needed that going into the situation in Norway. I’ve got to stand up for myself if things aren’t going my way and it’s lonely at times so you’ve got to be okay with your own company and you’ve got to be able to perform in a difficult environment. I mean the coach, coaches in Norwegian, the players communicate in Norwegian, so in the dressing room, on the pitch, traveling to away games. I mean you get your own conversation but at the end of the day it’s pretty lonely so you’ve got to perform in an environment that you’re not completely comfortable with. Like I would love to go into games knowing all about the opposition and how they play and what players to look out for and stuff like that but I have no idea what’s going on a lot of the time. So it’s a lot of pressure on me and it’s a lot to adapt to so you’ve got to learn to be okay with your own company and be able to perform even when you not comfortable with the situation.
Q: Have you picked up any of the Norwegian language at all?
AC: so it’s me and my roommate, she plays for Ireland, but she’s Scottish so I don’t have any idea how that works. But anyway we help out at like a kid’s coaching thing for a couple hours Monday to Thursday so we literally have learned like key words like “pass” or “shoot” and “go sit out” if they’re being naughty. But it’s funny because if they’re in a good mood they’ll listen to you and they’ll join in, but it’s so laid back so if they’re not in a good mood they’ll literally look at you and walk away and it’s hard to discipline a kid, an eight year old kid that doesn’t speak your language, so a little bit.
Q: Is it nice being back in Europe and some what closer to home and family?
Editor’s note: It’s a two hour flight from Bergen, Norway to London, England, as opposed to eight hour flight from Chicago to London.
AC: Yeah (my family) came out a couple of weeks into my time there, so it was my sister my mom and dad and it was actually graduation weekend so it would have been when I was graduating and like walking at NIU so we took a bit of a picture after a game and posted it on Facebook saying “graduation picture”. But one of the girls at NIU actually came out that same weekend, Haley Cummings, so that was welcome company. I mean it was the first few weeks was the hardest. I mean I made like a life for myself here and I was more than happy here, but you can’t just stay in college for the rest of your life, you’ve got to branch out and challenge yourself and I’m happy I’ve done that.
Q: Talk about the first half of your season.
AC: So we’re unbeaten in the league and in the cup (Scenska Cupen or Swedish Cup). We actually just got a cup tie (won a game) against a team in the top league. We’re top of the second league, hoping to go up and we got drawn against one of the top teams in the first division and they have like three national team players from Brazil. They have a load of internationals, they have all this money, and they’re actually currently trying to sign Marta so a bit of a jump from NIU to playing against Marta (five-time FIFA World Player of the Year), but we’ll see if that happens. But at the moment the games aren’t too hard, we struggle on the road a little bit. We’ve had one tie and the rest we’ve won pretty comfortably so going from NIU, having a little bit to do in goal, to just being more of a sweeper kind of role in Norway is hard to adapt to and the style is very different as well. Like they’re very technical, they’re not just running here, there and everywhere so I’m still adapting. I think the important thing is that I get better everyday and just communication and understanding with my back four every training session, every game.
Q: What are your plans when the season wraps up in October?
AC: I think at the moment I will explore my options over the next few months and hopefully I’ll carry on playing, whether it be in Norway or another country. I don’t know, if it’ll be at home or back in America, I think the language barrier is difficult to deal with. Just day to day so I’d like to be back in an English speaking country eventually so whether that’s next year or in a few years. I’d like to do that and then start to have a coaching career in college so maybe start as a GA or assistant, get grad school done and then hopefully work my way up (as a coach).