That's my story and some of my advice. Okay, now I'm going to play your part and act like the clueless person who is about to play ball overseas for the first time. These are some other questions you might be asking right about now. I'll answer them and ask a few of my other friends to offer their experiences as well.
What kind of relationship can I expect to have with the local guys on the team?
Each team is different. Your teammates will look up to you because you are American. America is great, the best. Your teammates and coaches will expect you to deliver when you feel as if you can't give any more. Your relationship with your teammates depends on how you make it. If you are friendly and want to hang out with them then they will but if you want to stay to yourself then they will do what they normally do before you got there. Ultimately, this will be your family for the time you will be in that country. If any problems occur on or off the court you know they would be there for you if you needed or asked them.
Will there be other foreigners like me there?
Depending on the team you join will determine what or how many foreigners will be on your team. You may possibly be with two or three other Americans, be with someone from another country or be by yourself.
What kind of relationship can I expect to have with my coach or team owner?
The team owner loves basketball so in turn they love you because you are good at what you do. Your relationship with the owner depends strictly on you and how you are with people. If you attempt to get to know him or her they will attempt to do a little extra on their end. Ex. Invite you places, reward you with bonus money for winning games, or buy gifts for you.
The coach is going to be a coach. They want to win. Having that mentality of I want to win will only help your relationship with him or her. The coach expects you to work. There is no such thing as I am having a bad day. It all really boils down to what was said earlier "how you are with people"
Is the style of play different in other countries?
Depending on what level you play on Division 1 or 2 will determine the style of play. Division 1 is more like playing professional basketball in America. Everyone is equally as good but each individual has his own concentration or expertise to the game. Division 2 is somewhat to college. There are one or two stars on that team and a supportive cast. The game style on both levels is like the college concept with the exception of a few things. They play four (4) ten (10) minute quarters. The three-point line is a little further back and the paint is formed into a triangle shape making the paint smaller than what it is in America
Do the refs call the games differently?
Basketball is a lot more physical overseas than it is in America. There is a lot more holding and fouling. Plays we think are fouls are normal in other countries.
In America we use the crossover a lot. To the referees they think we are traveling or carrying the ball causing it to be a turnover.
A player cannot call a time out only the coach can. If you have any questions concerning rules, ball sizes and definitions visit the FIBA website (www.fiba.com)
What should I do if I get there and find out the contract is different from what I expected?
- Contact your agent. Make sure the contract is in English and fax or email him a copy of it immediately.
- Decide if you really want to be there in that country. There are two sides to a coin. You must think the team deceived you once who is to say they will not do it again but on the flip side of it you never know what kind of positive experience you will have. (Ex. The relationships and contacts you will make.)
How do I keep from getting lost when I'm running around in a new country?
Here is something we never think about. Most businesses and hotels have business cards. Ask for one before you leave your destination. We normally have it on our mind that we want to just go wherever our business is, but stop for a second and plan it out. Doing this will save you the frustration later because you dont know if you turned down this street or that street. Getting a business card will allow a local or a taxi driver to know where exactly to go and save you the hassle.
What are some tips that will help me keep from getting ripped off?
It is sad that everyone is not honest but that is just part of life. Some people feel as if they can make an extra dollar by deceiving you they will. Here are a couple of ways to try to eliminate that.
- Learn the basic language of the country (Ex. Hello, How are you? How much? This is cheap/expensive, Goodbye). Doing this they know you know how to speak so they will not be quick to pull a fast one on you.
- Go with someone who can translate for you.
- Ask for a price list.
- Visit the same store frequently. If they see you on a regular basis then the storeowners will be more likely to help you.
- Buy a translation dictionary.
Is it safe to go out to clubs at night?
Your safety is your number one concern when you go out. If you go out you must be aware of what is going on at all times. People in the country that you are in probably know who you are. So it can be good and or bad. Everyone wants to hang with you because you are the "Star" or American. In the same token there are people who are jealous. The locals see you dancing and having a good time with the locals of the opposite sex. You may get dirty looks and possibly get confronted. The best thing to do is go with a teammate or someone you know who can translate for you if there is a problem.
How do I find out places to go?
Whatever your interest is ask.
- Your teammates should know the answers to everything you want but if not ask someone who you think fits the description of what you are looking for
- Ask the concierge at the hotel they should know the answers.
- Use the Internet. Use a popular search engine (Ex. www.google.com or www.msn.com) type in the city and country. Try to find a newspaper or local guide. You can usually find them in English or you may have to click on English when you get to the site.
What should I do with the money they give me? (Open a bank account, wire it back to the States, stuff it in my mattress, or something else?)
People handle money in different ways. So no one answer is the best answer. The choice is yours. When you receive your money your first thought is where am I going to put it. Here are some helpful ways to help you make your decision.
- Banks try and find a bank that may have a branch in America. This will help you when you get back because you will still have the same ATM card. When using an ATM machine overseas you have the option to choose English or their language. If there is no bank that has a branch in America you can still open an account and just keep the money there until you get home.
- Open a bank account and transfer funds from one account to the other. This process is easy but it takes a few days for the money to post to your other account plus there may be a fee depending on which banks you choose.
- Wire money, There is services like Money Gram (www.moneygram.com) and Western Union (www.westernunion.com) that allows you to wire money all over the world. (Western Union will probably be best because of name recognition and price).
- Mail money home, some people do not trust banks and do not want to pay the fees to wire money so they mail it home. A piece of advice, get travelers checks if you decide to do this. If the money never reaches the destination at least the checks can be replaced.
- The mattress, some people are just old fashioned and do not trust nothing. The best advice for this is, keep it in a safe place. Put it somewhere where you think no one will find it.
What are the other ways I can research the country I'm going to?
Believe it or not, the CIA (yes, that's our own "butt kicking' government agency") has one of the best websites for researching other countries. It's called the CIA World Fact Book. You can research tons of information about any country, including the money they use, maps of the country and region, and what kind of relationship they keep with the U.S. Go to http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html
And then select a country or region to read all about it.
How can I find out the country code for where I'm going?
This is a pretty cool website. You put in the name of the country you're calling from and the country you're calling to, and it not only tells you exactly what to dial, it also tells you what time it is in both places (so you don't call your Mom at 3:00 AM!)
http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/ here is a list of some country codes in Europe.
Codes for dialing TO:
Albania 335. Tirana 42
Andorra 33. All points 628
Austria 43. Graz 316; Innsbruck 5222; Salzburg 6222; Vienna 1
Belarus 375. Minsk 17
Belgium 32. Antwerp 3; Brussels 2; Ghent 91; Liege 41
Bosnia & Herzegovina 387. Sarajevo 71
Bulgaria 359. Sofia 2
Croatia 385. Zagreb 1
Cyprus 357. Nicosia 2
Czech Republic 42. Prague 2
Denmark 45. Aarhus 6; Copenhagen 1 or 2; Odense 9
Estonia 372. Tallinn 6
Finland 358. Helsinki 0; Tampere 31; Turku 21
France 33. Bordeaux 56; Marseille 91; Nice 93; Paris 1
Germany 49. Berlin 30; Frankfurt 611; Leipzig 341; Munich 89
Greece 30. Athens 1; Patras 61; Rhodes 241; Thessaloniki 31
Hungary 36. Budapest 1; Gyor 96
Ireland 353. Cork 21; Dublin 1; Limerick 61
Italy 39. Genoa 10; Milan 2; Naples 81; Rome 6
Lithuania 370. Vilnius 2
Macedonia 389. Skopje 91
Moldova 373. Chisinau 2
Monaco 33. All points 93
The Netherlands 31. Amsterdam 20; Haarlem 23; The Hague 70; Rotterdam 10
Norway 47. Bergen 5; Oslo 2; Trondheim 75
Poland 48. Gdansk 58; Krakow 12; Warsaw 22.
Portugal 351. Lisbon 1; Porto 2
Romania 40. Bucharest 1
Russia 7. Moscow 95
San Marino 39. All points 541
Serbia 38. Belgrade 11
Slovakia 421. Bratislava 7
Slovenia 386. Ljubljana 61
Spain 34. Barcelona 3; Madrid 1; Seville 54; Valencia 6
Sweden 46. Göteborg 31; Malmö 40; Stockholm 8
Switzerland 41. Basel 61; Bern 31; Geneva 22; Zurich 1
Turkey 90. Ankara 312; Istanbul 1; Izmir 51
Ukraine 380. Kyiv 44
The United Kingdom 44. Birmingham 21; Glasgow 41; London 1
What about diseases? Do I need to get shots before I go?
To find out if you need immunizations before you leave, go to the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/destinat.htm
Then click on the region or country to see what kind of diseases are going on there. Of course you can always just ask your doctor and make him or her do the research.
How do I know if it's safe to travel to a particular country, or if I need a Visa to get in?
You definitely want to read the Consular Information Sheet for the country where you are going. Its at this website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html
Then scroll down, find your destination and click on the link. It will have lots of safety and important info about the place.
What happens if I get in some kind of trouble and need official help?
You should print out the contact information for the U.S. Embassy where you are going. To find out about the nearest Embassy or Consulate, go to this website and look for your destination: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/embassies/embassies_1214.html
You want to keep this info handy in case you need it!
What if I have some other kind of emergency?
There is a website which tells you what to do in case you lose your passport, get arrested, have a medical emergency, or if you are the victim of a crime. Here is the link to that page: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1205.html
Why will my plug for my electrical device not fit in their electrical socket?
In the United States household electricity is supplied by your local power company at 110 or 120 volts and 60 Hz. European electricity is generally supplied at a 220 volts and a frequency of 50 Hz. Officially it is 230 volts plus or minus 10%.
When bringing electrical appliances to Europe, some or all of the following should be carried. Batteries, Battery charger, Converter, Plug adapters, and Rechargeable batteries.
Converters reduce 220 volts to 110 volts for use on your DVD player, Playstation 2, irons, and other electrical devices rated at 1000 watts or more. If your high wattage equipment doesn't have a dual voltage switch, you need one of these converters.
Try stores selling hardware, electrical goods, computers, or electronics.
Bring spare batteries for your equipment. If you buy batteries in Europe, do not expect much. Cheap off-brands are generally available and probably dead when you get back home. Even some Duracell batteries in Europe can be completely dead when using them for a few hours after purchase.
I had a good game; do I call my family and tell them?
Yeah of course tell everyone you know. But be smart. Get the game film. What's the point of telling them and you don't have proof. How can your agent get you a better job without more film? Get as much as you can so you will have a variety for your agent to choose from. Most teams have no problem providing you with a copy of the game but some teams will give you the run around and sometimes force you to pay for it. Don't argue with them. Yes it's not fair but who needs it, You or Them. Remember you want make more money next year. So will a few dollars kill you?