By: Matt Bell - October 3, 2013
Chris Nurse had no idea playing soccer in a park next to his house would open up the opportunities of becoming a professional footballer.
Life for the FC Edmonton midfielder started out like any other small child. “In England (probably similar to hockey here), everyone grows up playing soccer. All you needed was a ball and a field, and you’re good to go.”
Competitive soccer for Nurse started at the Under 13 level and progressed to a point where he could make soccer his full-time job. However it was representing his native country that really had a special place in his heart.
Although Nurse grew up in England, his home country is in fact Guyana. His first crack at the Guyana National team came in 2008 at the age of 24. “When I first joined the team there was a lot of talent. There were senior players playing centre-midfield ahead of me, so it was hard for me to break into the team immediately with all of these experienced veterans in that spot.”
However in that same year Nurse got the chance to prove himself.
“It was in the Caribbean Cup, a tournament qualifier into the Gold Cup. I didn’t play in the first two games, but before the third game I went to the coach and said ‘I know you’ve never seen me play for a long period of time, but I know I can bring something to the team.’” The third game happened to be against Trinidad, which at the time were a very strong soccer nation. It was the perfect time for Nurse to show what he was capable of, and he did exactly that. “I played a really strong game, we tied 1-1, and from then on I played consistently from there.”
As his play with the national team increased, Nurse began to mold himself into the leader he wanted to be. That leadership became apparent to management, and in September 2011 he was named captain of the national team.
It was clear Nurse knew what it took to be a good leader. “Keeping the mentality that nothing is ever good enough is really important. Always expecting the highest standard from yourself and from your teammates (regardless of the situation) is vital.”
As important as those approaches are, there was one specific skill he’s paid extra attention to in his years as a professional.
“Definitely communication,” he said with confidence. “The way you communicate and inspire your teammates is so important. Some players you can shout at, but there are others you need to take to the side and speak more lightly with them.”
Nurse admits you can never get it just right, but still acknowledges how important it is to a team dynamic. “I don’t think anyone will ever get it perfect, but it’s best to try and develop it in the best way you can with what you have.”
There have been a lot of great memories for Nurse during his time as a national team player, but one match-related moment really stands out from the rest. “Definitely playing in front of 85,000 Mexican fans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. With the history and the greats that have played there before (Maradona, Pele), it’s unbelievable to just take in the moment and have the honour to play on that pitch.”
So what was Nurse’s motivation through his adult soccer life? “When I was 20 my Mom passed away from breast cancer, and when I was growing up she was always telling people I was going to be a professional footballer. I saw it as my responsibility to make sure I did everything I could to make that a reality.”
Needless to say, his Mom would be proud of his accomplishments.
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