An Interview with Cameron Watson, the Overseas Athlete
Hello everyone, I'm Chris, your host of the Overseas Athlete Podcast. Today, I'm excited to share with you an insightful conversation I had with Cam, a professional footballer who has played across the globe. From his early days in Melbourne to his time in Portugal, Holland, India, and Indonesia, Cam's journey is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and a love for the game.
The Early Days: Melbourne and the AIS
Cam's journey began in Melbourne, where his father, a former professional footballer in Scotland, ignited his passion for the game. At the tender age of 14, Cam joined the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS), and later moved to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. Under the guidance of renowned coach Ernie Merrick, Cam honed his skills and prepared for the challenges ahead. The AIS, as Cam puts it, was a "major stepping stone" in his career.
The Big Move: From Australia to Portugal
After two years at the AIS, Cam made a bold move to Portugal, signing with Porto as a youth player. This opportunity came about after a friendly match in Melbourne, where he met a parent of a player already in Portugal. Cam's interest in playing overseas led him to send DVDs of his game footage to several clubs. Porto, intrigued by his potential, invited him for a week of training and evaluation, which culminated in a contract offer.
The Challenges: Adapting to a New Environment
Cam's transition to Portugal was not without its challenges. As a foreigner, he had to prove himself to his teammates and adapt to a new culture. However, with the support of his Australian teammate Diogo Ferreira and another teammate from Canada, Cam navigated these challenges and continued to grow as a player.
The Toughest Point: Playing in Holland
Cam's journey took a difficult turn in Holland, where he faced freezing temperatures and the loneliness of being away from home. Despite these challenges, Cam leaned on his support system, including regular phone calls and emails with his parents, a close Canadian friend, and visits from his mom and a good mate. These experiences, while tough, reinforced Cam's resilience and determination to succeed.
The Return: Back to Melbourne and the A-League
After his time in Holland, Cam returned to Melbourne, playing for the Melbourne Knights in the Victorian Premier League. Despite feeling envious of his peers signing with A-League clubs, Cam remained focused on his goal to play at a high level. His persistence paid off, and after several years in the A-League, an unexpected opportunity to play in India came his way.
The Adventure: Living and Playing in India
In India, Cam faced a new set of challenges, from navigating the paperwork and logistics of moving to adapt to cultural differences. Despite these hurdles, Cam found Bangalore to be a modern city with a thriving IT industry, making it a popular destination for Europeans. He lived in an apartment block with his teammates, enjoying facilities like a pool and a gym, and relied on Uber for transportation.
The Importance of Support: Advice for Young Players
Cam's journey underscores the importance of seeking advice and support when pursuing a career in professional football overseas. He highlights the value of resources like the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), which provides fact sheets, advice on exchange rates, taxes, and residency, and expertise in handling finances in different countries. Cam encourages young players to take advantage of such resources, as they can provide invaluable guidance in the fast-paced world of football contract negotiations.
In conclusion, Cam's journey is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and a love for the game. His experiences serve as valuable lessons for young players aspiring to make their mark in the world of professional football. As Cam's story shows, with the right mindset, support, and resources, anything is possible.
You can listen to the full episode here: https://theoverseasathlete.buzzsprout.com/2173432/13336647-episode-002-cameron-watson-from-the-ais-to-porto-holland-adelaide-united-india