International trials require far better preparation than domestic ones. It’s important to not just know and comply with the checklist for the domestic trials but also be intimately familiar with some of the specifics described below for traveling abroad. Some (if any) football agencies may provide some sort of checklist to trialists/families before departure, if so, great. Otherwise, we hope you find the information below useful.
- Passport: Without this document, traveling is not possible which negates everything else. If you don’t have a passport, obtain one before you actually need it. Better yet, if your ancestry allows access to multiple passports, acquire them ASAP. You will not be able to travel out or into your own country without one. Once you have it and prior to traveling, take a picture of the important parts of the passport(s) and store them in your phone as back up. This will also prevent the need to carry it around everywhere and thus minimize the risk of misplacing/losing it. If you can, make a hard copy of it and carry that for ID purposes unofficially.
- US consulate/embassy: In case of an emergency in the visiting country (ex. misplacing the passport, medical); it’s good to know how to get a hold of the US consulate/embassy. Have this information (phone number, address, etc.) both printed and stored in your phone.
- Scrimmage documentation: Some German clubs may require a signed “waiver” from the current club to allow participation in scrimmages. Ask if this is the case, you don’t want to travel 5000 miles, spend thousands of dollars to not be allowed to participate in a scrimmage which is the entire purpose of your trip.
- Club invitation letter: If such letter exists, it’s a good idea to have it readily available (printed is better). In COVID times, the letter may serve as an entry artifact to a foreign country. Have a folder or two with most of the documentation needed.
Demographics and related items
- City: Become familiar with the country, city and more specifically the area where you will be staying. This is more important when doing multiple trials/training opportunities in one trip (highly recommended)
- Language: If the club where you are traveling is a non-English speaking country, make an effort to learn a few general words: “thank you”, “please” and some phrases: “My name is <fill in the blank>”, “good morning”, “good night”, “where is the airport”, “how do I get from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’, “I don’t speak <fill in the blank>”? and of course some football phrases: “pass”, “I’m open”, “left”, “right”, “shoot”, “quick”, “man on”, etc. There are translation apps but it’s not always convenient to use them (ex. on the pitch)
- Accommodations/Room: Will the host club provide housing (this is customary); otherwise, arrange for accommodations as close to the training facility as possible. Learn the physical address of the place where you will be staying in case a package needs to be sent out to you.
- Meals/board: If the host club will be providing any food, how many meals will they provide? Can you buy additional meals if necessary? Either way, take some healthy snacks for the duration of your trip as well as some money to buy meals which may not be provided. Are there convenience stores/pharmacies nearby?
- Transportation: How will you get from the airport to the training facility upon arrival? How about the opposite upon departure? Is Uber an option? Set up an account if you don’t have one. Note: Exchange rates can be significant.
- Currency: Once at the host club, exchanging currency can be difficult. Ensure you have enough cash (in the correct currency) for emergencies. Go to the local bank and exchange money prior to departure, if this is not possible, do it at the airport.
- Family: If the player is 16 years of age or older, it’s probably best for the player to travel alone (if possible). This allows the player to better integrate with players from the host club.
- Means of communication: Will WiFi be available? Will your cellular provider work?
- SIM Card: If your own SIM card cannot be used in the visiting country, can one be acquired and swapped out? Do you need to purchase an additional/temporary plan for data? Talk to your cellular provider before departing. Sometimes, SIM Card vending machines are located at airports.
- Travel adapter/power converter: Is a different voltage used in the visiting country? If so, get a plug needed to charge your electronics. Are your electronics dual voltage? Most are but be sure. This is important!!! You don’t want to fry your electronics while traveling.
- Power bank: You will run out of juice at some point. Have a power supply back up and make it a habit to charge it every night. Leave it charging during practices.
- USB cables: Have multiple cables to either charge multiple devices at night and/or in case you misplace one. In some foreign countries, it’s not as easy to acquire/buy USB cables like it is in the US.
- Book/Magazine: If technology (WiFi, charger, phone dies/lost) is not available, a good book journal is a great way to pass time. If you enjoy writing, bring a journal and make it a habit to write about your experiences every day. Another idea is to download Netflix movies/shows prior to your departure, you can watch them even when WiFi is unavailable.
If you read this far, you are better prepared than most. Good luck in your trials/international training opportunity. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org