This week, Chioma Igwe sat down with Our Game Magazine for our weekly installment of Players Abroad interviews. A former member of the Chicago Red Stars and Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), Igwe is now playing in Germany, in the top-flight league Bundesliga. She has played in five matches this season for SC Freiburg, which currently sits in fifth place in the Bundesliga table.
Name: Chioma Igwe
Hometown: Belmont, California
Current Team: SC Freiburg
How did you get to Freiburg?
I visited my brother, who also plays in Germany, and my agent set me up with a tryout.
How long have you been there?
About 8 months
In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between playing abroad and playing the U.S.?
You don’t have to be super athletic or fast to succeed here. Some of the slower players, for example, are the most effective players on the field. In America, the pace is much faster, but in Germany, it’s a more of a technical battle.
What do you miss most about home?
My family and my dog. And burritos.
What is the best part about playing overseas?
Having to figure things out on my own. Whether it’s adjusting to the new style of play, how to speak the language, culture, etc. It’s such a great life experience no matter how you look at it. I also love that I can travel.
What has been the most difficult adjustment so far?
Being ALONE. I’m the only American on my team, so it was really difficult to be thrown into a situation where I didn’t have someone to relate to. Once I got adjusted, I really started to enjoy the experience, but it was a rough road.
What advice would you give to other players trying to play overseas?
I know this sounds cliche, but really don’t ever give up if everything seems to be going wrong. Keep a positive attitude and work hard in whatever you do, and it will pay off sooner or later. Also, make sure to explore and enjoy life outside of soccer. Build a life wherever you are so that you are fully invested in the experience of living overseas.
Your brother is also playing professionally in Germany. What has that been like for you?
Probably the best part about being in Germany is the fact that my brother is here, too. We talk every day, and laugh about the awkward cultural encounters we have every day. He really helped me feel like I wasn’t on my own at times. He started playing in Germany a year before me, so all the difficulties I encountered, he had already gone through.
Is there a way for fans to follow you while you’re there? Blog? Twitter? Facebook page?