New beginnings Part I: “le Foot feminin” and “American football”

The last few days here in Switzerland have been full of new beginnings for us. After spending much of the last two weeks holed up in our apartment in Vevey (vainly trying to get two grumpy kids excited about our surroundings) our new life began to take shape as we: enrolled Emma and Lachlan in local sports teams; started to get our house ready for when the furniture arrives; and as the new school year began at the International School of Lausanne. Today’s blog post, “New beginnings – Part I,” will focus on the sports teams. I’ll get to the school and the new house in a few days.

Emma and Lachlan are very passionate about their respective sports – soccer and football – and we were committed to finding them high quality teams and coaching once we moved to Lausanne. We also saw participation on local sports teams as a way for them to meet local Swiss kids and maintain and perhaps improve their French, neither of which are easy to do when living in the expat bubble that exists here in Lausanne.

Emma has been playing rep soccer with the North Toronto Nitros for the last 3 seasons. Her Nitros teammates are among her best friends and Kathryn and I have really enjoyed the company of the other parents. This year her U11 team is vying for 1st place in the Toronto youth soccer league.

We were committed to finding her a good local team with which she could continue to enjoy the sport and develop as a player. We began doing our homework months ago by researching girls’ soccer teams in the Lausanne area, and I made a short audition video of Emma doing drills and playing in games, which we planned to circulate to interested coaches. It soon became apparent to us, however, that girls’ soccer is not as well supported as it is in Canada and that there were far fewer girls participating in competitive soccer in Switzerland. While there are hundreds of soccer clubs in the surrounding area, I could find very little evidence of girls’ teams. Most girls who play the game here play on mixed teams with boys, and there are usually no more than 2-3 girls per team.

Long story short, after a lot of research and email exchanges with a number of coaches, we connected with an all-girls U14 select team made up of top female players from a variety of clubs in the Lausanne area. The team is called Team Vaud Feminin, part of a new association that is dedicated to raising the level of competitive soccer for girls and women in the Canton of Vaud. Most of the girls on the team are 12-13 years of age and quite technically skilled. We were uncertain whether or not having Emma “play up” with older girls was the right choice, but she held her own at the initial practices and she has been offered a spot on the roster. The fact that our 11 year old Emma won a spot on a U14 team is a testament to how well she has been coached over the last few years, and to her own commitment to the sport. Finally, almost all the girls on the team are French Swiss and all of the coaching and instruction is in French, so Emma will have a great opportunity to improve her language skills.

Emma and her Team Vaud Feminin teammates participated in a local junior tournament in Bussigny last weekend, in which they were the only all-girls team. They played against a mixture of all-boys and mixed teams. They finished the tournament with a record of 3 wins, 3 losses and tie. Oh, and the new girl Emma scored 2 goals and got a couple of assists! It was so nice to get back onto a soccer pitch and enjoy the rituals of a soccer tournament, which here in Switzerland include Nespresso and croissants for breakfast, followed by beer and sausage for lunch, in addition to cheering on the teams!

Lachlan, meanwhile, has become fanatical about playing what the Swiss call “American football”. He just finished his first season with the Toronto Jr Argos, for whom he played Right Guard. The Jr Argos were 5th in the regular season standings and made it all the way to the North Region Final of the Ontario Football Conference.  Surprisingly, finding Lachlan an “American football” team to play with here in Lausanne proved much easier than finding a soccer team for Emma. After a little internet surfing last winter we were surprised to find that there are a handful of clubs in the Lake Geneva area, including the Lausanne University Club of American Football, LUCAF for short. We made contact with the coaches and they invited Lachlan to observe a team practice when we were in Lausanne last May. As soon as the coaches laid eyes on him (5′ 9″, 220lbs) they offered him a position on the spot!

Ever since we arrived here almost 2 and half weeks ago, Lachlan has been asking me daily: “When does football start? When does football start?” Well, he finally got his wish: Lachlan attended his first official LUCAF practice last Friday night. He has started to train for the position of Fullback, which means he gets to carry the ball and hopefully score some points (without getting injured in the process, we hope!). At the end of practice Lachlan and few other new guys introduced themselves and were then surrounded by the rest of the team for a ritual chant to initiate them onto the team.

Both Emma and Lachlan seemed really happy to get back to playing the sports that they love. We are very pleased with both the quality of the coaching they are receiving, as well as with the comraderie and support amongst the players and families. While I’m sure it is a bit strange for them to be thrown in amongst a brand new group of kids who are primarily French-speaking, we are confident that they will grow to love their new teams and continue to pursue their passions.


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One Comment on “New beginnings Part I: “le Foot feminin” and “American football””

  1. Barbara Dainard Says:

    So happy to hear the young ones are settling into their beloved sports. I know they will do well. They will also pick up the French language very quickly, I’m sure. Hopefully school will be just as enjoyable for them as their sports. I know what it was like for me at 14 to come to Canada, enter school that had no gymnasium – I was devastated and needless to say would have gladly returned home on the first available boat if I had, had the money to do so. LOL I’m sure Lachlan and Emma will settle in nicely, they have great parents who will listen to their trials and tribulations. Hugs to all


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