Hey there, I’m Ainsley McCallister! I’m stoked that you have read this far as I REALLY hope that this is the start of a blog where I and many of you, can share our experiences and stories of travelling the world playing the sports we love 🙂
My journey began near on two years ago unexpectedly and immediately after I finished college… and it is still going strong!
I was fortunate enough to be connected with an English field hockey club through the US national team coach. In no way was traveling abroad to play, something I had planned to do post college. I was lining up a job in the US before I caught wind of the possibility… I had no idea that the opportunity even existed!
I flew to London January 2015 with no idea of what I was getting into. The only information I knew was that I would be playing for a club team named Beeston, coaching some for their junior academy and living in Nottingham in an apartment with two guys from the men’s team.
Thankfully, despite the complete unknown, I ended up having absolutely the best time playing in England, which spurred me to continue my worldwide hockey journey!
Then, through my connections made in England, I was offered a contract that allowed me to continue onto Australia as an “import” to play. In hockey language this term holds similar meaning to that of FedEx; to bring in goods from foreign lands to local soil!
So in mid-May, after a few weeks of backpacking Europe, I once again flew across the world, knowing no one, and having little detail about what was next. Upon arriving in Perth, I was shocked to find that there were about eighty other “import” players too. Each “import” had a different and intriguing story, experience and intent for playing abroad, revealing that traveling to play club hockey internationally is no small deal.
Field hockey was ultimately creating an experience where I was able to compete at a high level, travel throughout Europe and the South Pacific, make close friends, do meaningful work in both England and Australia and learn a lot about myself and the world!! I am now in the middle of my fourth season competing abroad!!
Initially in arranging this experience, I was lucky enough to have advice and help from several coaches who are connected globally. Despite this valuable assistance, as well as using all the resources I could find, there was so much uncertainty about the opportunity ahead. I set out with no expectation or even much information.
It wasn’t until I was immersed abroad that I was able to tap into knowledge and recommendations from many fellow athletes, whom have played in different locations, to help organize my next field hockey season abroad. From conversation, the vast collection of individual experiences were all encompassing. They ranged from; what weekly field hockey training schedule to expect, to what type of contract might be offered by a club, to what exciting travels should be experienced in a mid-season bye-week.
I learned heaps about field hockey globally, particularly regarding its differences and intricacies from place to place. From this, I quickly found my personal knowledge and experiences helping fellow players and coaches understand the opportunities for them within the US, as well as, in other places that I had experienced. Ultimately this led to me connecting people to colleges and international clubs around the world.
I loved the challenge of connecting people and helping to organize their dream overseas experience, all made possible through sport. It didn’t sit well with me that there are so many amazing sporting experiences, so many people whom would be game, but no one place to learn about and connect with them. It also seemed a shame that everyone’s advice and connections would only hold short-term relevance, as the sporting world changes so fast.
Therefore I just had to think of a solution..!
I created Uru Sports to capture the knowledge, connection and experience of every like-minded, travel and sports fanatic. The network has been built to make the world of sport smaller, to break down borders and to create a global community.
Often life as an import lasts only a short stint of time and by the time you get settled, it’s almost over! I hope that Uru Sports will provide awesome, helpful advice, so to cut down the transitional time and help athletes optimize their time abroad. In Perth it took to our final month to start a messaging group for the ‘Perth Imports’… but when we did, we had such fun together, doing extra trainings and exploring more! We wished we had the community from the get-go.
Right now Uru Sports is predominantly based on my own experience, knowledge and connections, as well as, those of the network I have made on my journey. But as is true to each of us, my own experiences and connections will fade quickly. Further, there are thousands of sports events throughout the world that we are unaware of… Uru Sports needs your help!! It is only together and via a lasting platform that we can share our journey for the benefit of ourselves and for others in the future.
I have experienced first hand that with helpful connections your sport can take you places that you never imagined!! I will always be thankful for the experiences I’ve enjoyed, the memories I’ve made and all the lessons I’ve learned while I played abroad, leaving the US soil.
Join Uru Sports today – share, connect, get involved 🙂
NO BORDERS. JUST SPORTS.