Here is a much needed and helpful Q&A for a lot of athletes wondering what it is actually like to play overseas.
overseas vet Darrell Tate answers the most generally asked questions:
-How did you start playing overseas?
-Do you enjoy it?
-What is the competition like?
-What is the pay like?
-Besides salary, what else is offered?
-Can I bring family with me?
-Do professional scouts from other leagues look at athletes in European leagues?
Q: How did you start playing overseas?
A: It had actually taken about 2 years before I got my first chance at playing overseas. After a tremendous amount of networking and marketing from me and my agent to over 200 teams that simply said "no", I finally got my first offer to come play. Generally overseas teams like to sign athletes that have recently graduated and have fresh updated highlights (with impressive stats of course). I had been out of college 2 years with game film that wasn’t as flashy as others. Therefore, it was very hard to convince a team that I was ready. However, I finally got my chance and have been impressing teams ever since. Luckily now, Pro Hunt is able to help athletes gain exposure and eliminate those harsh politics of getting signed.
Q: Do you enjoy it?
A: I absolutely love every moment of playing overseas! I travel the world, experience new cultures, meet amazing people, and make new life-lasting relationships all while playing the sport I love. The treatment I have received from the organizations I have played for is superb! It's like I am a local celebrity in some of the cities I play for. Children, and even adults ask you to take pictures with them randomly in the streets, and everyone is eager to offer something. Furthermore, people are always interested in learning something from you, and they also want to teach you new things as well. It's really what you make of it. I try my best to make the best situation out of every opportunity I get.
Q: What is the competition like?
A: The competition overseas is at best NCAA Division 1-AA level. There are also leagues that have teams that play at a low D3 level. However, mostly all American Imports are well experienced and play at a high level. There are even guys who've competed in the NFL out here! We are asked to bring a lot to the table. As imports, our jobs within team organizations are to share our knowledge and talents of the game of football, and develop others within the organization. All players, coaches, and fans overseas are crazy about football and want to do anything to make their teams progress.
Q: What is the pay like? Besides a salary what else is offered?
A: There are many factors that depend on how much an import is paid, such as: How many years out of college the athlete is, overseas experience, position, age, the team organization, the country's economy, and many more.
BUT KNOW THIS... YOU WILL NOT GET RICH PLAYING OVERSEAS FOOTBALL!!!
Can you make a decent living? Yes, of course. Most teams already include free furnished housing (with all bills paid), wifi, phone, some form of transportation throughout the city, gym membership, insurance, and meals. Sometimes meals aren't included if the team is paying salary.
Salaries generally average from 500-2000 Euros per month based on the before mentioned factors. There are some teams in lower level leagues that aren't even able to pay salaries. However, they offer great benefits as mentioned above.
Q: Can I bring my family with me?
This entirely depends on the team and their comfortability of you bringing others to live with you. If they are coming for a short visit, it's completely fine in most cases. However, if you have a wife or even kids that you want to bring, it is very important that you bring this up to management at the very beginning of negotiations just so things won't become too complicated.
Q: Do professional scouts from other leagues look at athletes in European leagues?
A: There are VERY FEW instances when overseas football players get a chance to play in big leagues like the NFL or CFL, however, IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN. The bottom line is that if you are putting in work, SOMEONE WILL NOTICE. It is the athlete's responsibility to make sure he gets noticed. That’s why you must carry yourself professionally and in a business manner. Make as many connections as possible and get yourself noticed by others any way you can. You just never know how someone can help you out.