For Oraz Atayev, making the squad of a great team meant overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers.

For some players, reaching a top-tier team isn’t only a sporting challenge, but also a social and cultural one. Turning football into a profession is twice as hard when destiny places home far from the world’s footballing hubs. When this is the case, tactical and technical progress and prowess cease to be enough. Enter the daunting task of a new language, adapting to a foreign environment and travelling an unexplored terrain.

The first weeks in Barcelona were very difficult,” remembers Oraz Atayev. In September of 2015, the centre-back arrived from Turkmenistan and enrolled in Marcet’s High-Performance Academy. Realising that his footballing future also depended on his socio-cultural adaptation took some time. “During the first trimester, I really wasn’t into the prospect of studying, but my family weren’t having it so I started to make an effort with the whole language thing.” In the following video, the defender talks to us about the difficulties that he and some of his classmates have had concerning their sporting development:

“With the proper mindset, in three or four months everything started to work better,” says Oraz, who has just made a place for himself in CD Lugo, a team that competes in Spain‘s Second A Division. “My parents and I are really happy because, in the end, we know that there are millions of kids out there that would love to be in my place.” I made a crucial sacrifice by leaving my country and my family to a place completely foreign to me, without knowing the language. I guess I could say that we’re are all pretty proud of what I’ve achieved so far.

Ever since he was little, Oraz knew that he wanted to dedicate his life to football. His father took initiative and enrolled him in Marcet’s Academy as a first step to fulfilling his dream. “In the space of three seasons, I improved both my football and myself, personally. I was given the opportunity to play games against teams like Sevilla, Atlético de Madrid, Espanyol, Girona… significant rivals, unforgettable experiences that helped me grow and enjoy football like I’d never done before.”

Oraz Atayev shows his CD Lugo jersey after signing for the galician team.
Oraz Atayev shows his CD Lugo jersey after signing for the galician team.

This following season is a crucial one for Oraz. The Turkmen defender has left the nest and knows that he’s ticking all the boxes regarding turning his passion into a job: “Right now my goal is to do a good season, stay at Lugo, work my way up to the first team and debut as a professional player as soon as possible to get as far as possible.”

 

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