ZACK SHIPOSH – Braunschweig, Germany

 

FREIE TURNER BRAUNSCHWEIG

 

 

Zack Shiposh with FT Braunschweig U19s

 

Braunschweig is a city of 247,400 people located in the German state Lower Saxony. It is located north of the Harz Mountains. Although it’s a large city about two hours from Berlin, it is extremely clean, has both modern buildings and historic castles, and it feels very much like my home – Northeastern Pennsylvania – surrounded by green and mountains.

Shiposh during training at FT Braunschweig

When I first got to Braunschweig I trialed with the U19 men’s team for the city’s highest level professional club, Eintracht Braunschweig. Eintracht’s youth team plays in the 2nd division of German soccer. After several weeks on trial, I received word that the club was not going to sign me. The following Monday I trialed with another semiprofessional club’s U19 team, Freie Turnerschaft Braunschweig. Their semi-pro team is in the 5th division of German soccer, but the U19 team is playing in the Niedersachsenliga – 3rd highest of the eight German youth soccer divisions, so the challenge and quality of play was still excellent. Freie Turner picked me up after the first week and then began the submission of my player pass and international transfer certificate with the Deutscher Fussball Bund (German Soccer Federation).

After a several weeks of breaking into the team, I was promoted to the starting attacking center midfielder for Freie Turner and playing full ninety minute games. At any given time, there were players trialing for a spot with Freie Turner’s U19′s so I knew my spot was never secure and that was always in the back of my mind at every practice and game. That ‘fear’ of losing the chance to play pushed me harder than I ever pushed myself back in the U.S. Our league, the Niedersachsenliga, is comprised of teams from cities and towns all over the Lower Saxony or northwestern region of Germany such as Verden, Bückeburg, Garbsen, Lüneburg, and Hildesheim among others.

Shiposh with teammates at training camp

We travel throughout the state and every town is full of boys my age just as good as me or better. I’m getting tested and pushed every game and it’s exactly what’s going to make me a better player. I go to school at the local high school and have made many friends. School is challenging but my host teachers and host family are very supportive and have helped me along the way. I have become extremely close with my host family – they treat me as if I were their own son. I am very happy here in Germany, and am truly fortunate to have had this opportunity of a lifetime to pursue my dreams.