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Rok Elsner and Agil Etemadi both took the same step when out of contract. They joined the training camp of their professional footballers’ association and participated in the FIFPro Tournament.

 

Elsner and Etemadi talk about their experiences, three days before the eighth FIFPro Tournament kicks off in Rijnsburg, The Netherlands.

 

As a teenage goalkeeper, Agil Etemadi was one of the biggest talents in Dutch football. But plagued by injuries, his professional career did not really take of. After three years under contract at SC Heerenveen (in the Dutch premier league) but without playing, he ended up at SC Veendam, a second division team, in 2010-2011. He had an amateur contract and only received payment of expenses.

 

‘In the summer of 2011 I was looking for a new club, because at Veendam there were not many possibilities’, says Etemadi. ‘I did not want to play as an amateur again.’

 

‘My brother, who is also my manager, advised me to apply for Team VVCS. He assured me, that the training camp of the Dutch players’ union would be an extra opportunity to make a good impression on scouts and clubs.’

 

Etemadi listened to his brother’s advice. ‘Frankly, I did not expect too much of Team VVCS. I did not know many players who in the past had played for the Dutch union. And, to be honest, I was a little bit ashamed. I once played in the national youth team, and now I would have to apply for the team of the unemployed players, looking for a new contract. I was wondering what other people might think of me joining Team VVCS.’

 

Ashamed or not, Etemadi joined the team, which was coached by Henk Wisman. ‘I must say, the team’s organization was pretty okay. The players really gelled and took care of each other. The atmosphere in the squad was great. Our coach was okay too. Not only did we have good training sessions with him, but he was also part of the group. He had a great sense of humor. We had so much fun with him, which is also very important.’

 

‘When I joined Team VVCS, my goal was to get in shape and to experience group training sessions. Yes, you can train yourself individually, but that is different. If you want to go on trial at a club, then you better train with a team. It helps you get in shape.’ 

 

‘Team VVCS really made me feel as if I were practicing at a professional club. We started with a training camp at the home of the Dutch football association in Zeist. We received outfits and the coach handed over a list of rules. It all appeared very professional to me.’

 

 widthEtemadi had never heard of the FIFPro Tournament. His brother informed him, when he entered the Team VVCS training camp. ‘He told me that there would be a tournament with many scouts present. That sounded okay to me.’

 

Team VVCS and Etemadi had a good FIFPro Tournament. On Day 1, they beat Italy and Portugal with Etemadi in goal. The Dutch squad took the first place and earned itself a match against Almere City FC (second division), on the second day of the FIFPro Tournament.

 

‘It was a great tournament. The accommodation was fine, the level was very good.’

 

‘As a goalkeeper, you  hope that you get the chance to make an impression. You must be a little bit lucky that you are called upon to make some great saves, to prove your worth and to impress one of the scouts. I managed to make some great saves.’ 

 

Etemadi also managed to impress some scouts. On Sunday, he was told that FC Groningen (that season’s number 5 in the Netherlands) wanted to sign him. ‘They called me to say that the contract would be worked out.'

 

'Scouts of FC Groningen had been watching me on Saturday to check whether I was in shape. Apparently, they had already observed me in previous weeks. One day after the FIFPro Tournament, I signed the contract.’

 

At FC Groningen, Etemadi remained for half a year. He mostly played for the second team. ‘I had a great time. I enjoyed playing my matches and I am very thankful to FC Groningen for giving me this opportunity.’

 

He left Groningen, because another opportunity had come up. From Iran. Etemadi was born in Iran and had been living with his parents in The Netherlands since he was six. He’s got two passports: one Dutch and one Iranian. ‘A couple of years ago, I had almost gone to Iran. But I was not able to obtain a working permit.’

 

This time, things did work out. ‘I signed a 1,5 year contract at Tractor Sazi FC from Teheran, a club that plays in the Iranian premier league. They were in need of a goalkeeper and told me that there would also be a possibility of me playing for the national team.’

 

Unfortunately, Etemadi has not been very successful in Iran yet. ‘Although I like Iran a lot, I still haven’t played a single match. Right after I arrived, I broke one of my ribs. Another goalkeeper (Mohsen Foroozan) took advantage. He has been playing very well and has even made his debut in the national team. Currently, I am on the substitutes’ bench. I have to accept this; he is doing a great job. You need to have a little bit of luck…’

 

Despite his initial objections, Agil Etemadi does not regret having joined Team VVCS. ‘I enjoyed it a lot. I have even advised a friend of mine to apply for this year’s team; Petrit Hoxhaj. He said there were a couple of clubs interested in him, but that nothing was happening yet. He wanted to stay in shape for the moment something would really happen and he would be offered a trial. I told him: join Team VVCS.’

 

‘Playing the FIFPro Tournament  is a perfect opportunity. There are many scouts there. You’ve got nothing to lose. You can only win. You should feel privileged to be playing at such an event.’

 

 

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 Agil Etemadi at the FIFPro Tournament 2011