Trust your struggle

I had been working at a local training facility and getting in training sessions before and after work trying to recover from a torn Achilles from college. Playing football was always on my mind and I just knew that I wasn’t done with playing after college.

However, I didn’t know where and when I was going to get my next opportunity to play. All I knew was that if I kept preparing and working at it – since I had the full usage of the training facility, it would all work out one day. There were many long days of the repetitive of wake up, train, work 8 hours, train again, drive home, and sleep. Mentally, it was challenging trying to work for something at the time I couldn’t touch, feel, or see. Many days I could have easily just turned it in when you have to answer the questions of what are you doing with your life being asked from friends and family. But I was determined to get to my goal and take control of what I wanted to do in my life and not let anybody direct it for me.

I could remember hearing about the website called EuroplayersMany of us might be on now, but it gives you the platform to represent yourself to European teams for your chance to play abroad. Every day I would message countless teams trying to get them to notice me and be interested in me for their team. Its funny because I would message so many teams that some would block me instead of responding because they got tired of my constant messaging, but I just couldn’t give up I had just had to keep going until I got my chance.

Trust Your Struggle  - Jared Bradley
Trust Your Struggle – Jared Bradley

Then on November 30th 2012, my birthday ironically, I finally got my opportunity. Its funny because the team that opened that door for me to play in Europe was not a team that I ever messaged or that ever looked at my profile until that day. Aix en Provence in France opened up an opportunity for me that has changed my life on and off the field in so many ways. I can’t thank them enough for giving me that chance and believing in me. Their opportunity allowed me to make some great friendships, meet a very special lady in my life and to travel around a country that most people from the States never get a chance to go to or save up for years to only go for a week or 2 at most. That opportunity turned into a 5-year experience with a 6th coming up soon.

Playing Europe is an honor that I hold in great respect, maybe more than it deserves some would say, but to me, when the various teams who I have played for in Europe gave me a chance to be apart of their teams history, I just know that I had to repay them with everything I had both on and off the field. Because of how much it meant and means to me to be able to still play this game that I love and the experience it comes with being in Europe for the 8-10 months I’m there.

Trust Your Struggle  - Jared Bradley
Trust Your Struggle – Jared Bradley

Mental Toughness

If I had to describe my journey with football in one phrase it would be mental toughness. So many times I felt like giving up and not training that day or eating that one thing I shouldn’t eat or not going out when maybe I should have spent time with friends and family. Even missing family birthdays and holidays, or just being a rock for my family when they needed it. So many times from family and friends I would hear you should find a “real job” or some would even laugh when I said I was playing in Europe because I guess they felt it was less or something. But its funny because the same ones laughing want to come over and visit but that’s neither here nor there; anyway, I had so many reasons to stop and give up and just find something else. Even having to mentally be ok with teams messaging me saying they are interested and even face timing you only to not respond to your messages and just straight up ignoring you when you try to get clarity on what is the plan. Its challenging when you don’t know what the next 6-8 months of your life is going to entail because you don’t know how you should move forward really. It’s a stand still waiting game in which you just can’t afford to stand still if you know what I mean.

Trust Your Struggle  - Jared Bradley
Trust Your Struggle – Jared Bradley

At the end of the day this journey which I’m sure many in my situation can attest to is not easy by any means and once given the chance of a lifetime in my eyes, cherish it and giving everything you have to make your chance count. Embrace the culture, grow, learn about yourself, and love the game. Trust Your Struggle.

– Jared Bradley

The Battered Bastards
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