Future abroad

At some point in this crazy journey you have to stop and take in the surroundings. That’s why I decided not to think about anything related to the economic disaster yesterday. Instead I spent the day with some of the most promising female teenage football players in Scandinavia.

When I lost my job second time around I was lucky enough to have a second skill I had developed and could put to work. Instead of working for a bank or a computer company I now coach teenagers in football (soccer) full time. It has actually turned out brilliantly for me as it is something I love doing.

Football in Iceland is in good shape. The training facilities at my club are top-class, all the coaches are well-educated and teenage players are nurtured in a way that is hard to imagine being bettered except by the top professional clubs in Europe. For a small country we have players strutting their stuff from Barcelona to Bolton to Portsmouth. The female national team is in the finals of the Euro 2009.

The teams I coach are full of promising teenagers. Many who can go on to play top-level football and make it pay for their education or even go professional. Those not at that level are still incredibly wholesome kids who would do any society proud. They will become well-educated and ambitious adults.

And they might move away.

If you look across national teams around the globe you will find first or second generation immigrants in most teams. People who have found a new country in search of a better life. From Spain to Sweden you will see top players who could have turned out for national teams in the Balkans if  their parents had seen a promise of a better life there such as Krkic and Ibrahimovic. In France you have Algerian, Moroccan and Ivorian descendants, in the US a history of Latin American players.

So will Iceland see a generation of promising teenagers and kids move abroad to become flag-bearers for other countries?

At the movie theater on Friday (The Day the Earth Stood Still – Beware of it) I met a guy in his twenties who is looking to leave the country. He just finished his masters degree in business  and said “it seems like the people who hold positions of power in this country don’t have any grasp of basic economics at all”. What pushed him over the brink was the incredible raise in taxes on products and service which will lead to higher prices while inflation is pushing 20%.  He is looking at Switzerland, or anywhere. He’s had enough.

Call it brain-drain, talent-drain or the great escape. He might become a well-educated, high-earning taxpayer of Switzerland instead of Iceland. His children might grow up in Central Europe instead of in Reykjavik.

One of the teenage players left this weekend, for a year at least. Her step dad got a job in Asia as a pilot. Will they have anything to come back to in a year’s time? Are more leaving? I met another guy in his twenties last night who is renting out his apartment and heading for the Czech Republic in January to see what might happen his way.

The future carries an enormous amount of debt for the next generations of Icelanders. We are being told that everything is going to be alright, because we have the fish in the sea and the hydro-energy that could support energy-hungry industry.

It is just that people are having a really hard time trusting those who say they are going to lead us through the crisis, because they happen to be the same people who got us into the mess.

So when the number nine’s who scores a World Cup goal for Switzerland in 2026 last name is Stefansson or Gudmundsson you will know why.

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1 Response to “Future abroad”



  1. 1 ecommerce Trackback on December 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

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