• Harry Twort

Coastal Bend Cougars Striker Dan Westray on upping sticks and moving to America and more.

Every year thousands of young footballers from all over the world up sticks and move out to America to chase their dream of becoming a professional footballer. Trials are held yearly across the globe to pick up talent and bring them to America to play college Football. College Football has produced many talented players including the likes of Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes and former Newcastle United right back DeAndre Yedlin. Earlier this week I caught up with Coastal Bend Cougars Striker Dan Westray who made the move earlier this year from London to Texas. Coastal Bend Cougars are located in Beeville, Texas and compete in the NJCAA Division 1. This season they made history, winning their first ever conference championship in the college’s history!

Dan told me what the transition was like when moving from England to America, advice for footballers thinking about making the same decision as he did, the best thing about playing in America and more.

What made you decide to go out to America to play Football?

“Since I was in year 7/8 back in secondary school I knew about this opportunity. I’ve always loved playing football and hearing about this, I knew it wasn’t a chance I could turn down”

What was the whole transition like when you moved from England to America?

“The transition from UK to USA was fairly easy. Obviously there is a lot of paperwork to sort out when moving. So like your visa, i20 and other things along them lines. Then of course when at home you need to organise the classes you are going to take with individuals that work at the college you’ll be attending. But when you arrive everything runs rather smoothly.”

Compared to England, how different is the whole educational side of things out in America?

“Educational side if you apply yourself and focus within the classroom it isn’t hard. Of course you take your major, but along side that you will take classes to build your credits up. These are such things as your English, Algebra, Finance. These classes are GCSE level and some maybe sixth form difficultly. If you are not the strongest with classes such as these I would recommend going NJCAA first rather then straight NCAA as this allows you to focus on these smaller subjects first before starting your major.“

What advice would you give to anyone planning to follow in your footsteps?

“If someone wants to do this I have two pieces of advise. Firstly, make sure you are physically fit enough to compete. Football over here is very different to home. In UK you have more time on the ball to maybe take 2-3 touches. In comparison in the US it’s constant high press and you will have pressure on you before even receiving the ball. My second piece of advise would be focus in the classroom. The higher your grades the better your scholarship can become. At the end of the day the colleges care more about your GPA rather then how you do on the field.”

What would you say is the best thing about playing out in America?

“Many people would probably say the best thing about playing out here would be travelling across the states. However my personal favourite thing is meeting people from all across the world. For instance in my team you have Brazilians, Italians, Argentinians, South Africans and many other nationalities. Living with these guys on a day to day basis you learn about the different cultures and make friends with people you never would have imagined.”

From talking to Dan I can tell it’s the best decision he’s ever made and is loving life out in America. Dan’s so far had experiences that few people have had and hopes to make his dream a reality in becoming a professional footballer. I respect Dan for having the guts to also leave his life in England behind him to move over to America to chase his dream.