Interview with Christen Roper (28.11.2005)
Hello Christen, thanks for taking a little time off before your training session tonight. We are actually a little late with this interview since our T71 homepage already holds all the vital statistics one would want to learn about from you, Lori Ann Saeki and Wilma Simpson did quite a good job there. Your record and progress are quite impressive and we would be interested to learn more about the system that churns out so many top players.
Well, I can only talk about my own sporting progress, but from what I understand about the Luxembourg or European system so far, the main difference appears to lie in the organization of the initial recruiting of young players.
Aren’t we talking about club structures then?
Well, yes in a way, only that you start play in what we call City League or Church League structures run by local organizations on a voluntary basis. You are in fact encouraged to try several sports, and there is no club membership or club license system.
Do you play in some kind of championship ?
Yes, there are games every Saturday over a period of five months in those first years – in my case I started at the age of ten - until you enter Junior High at the age of 12-14 and then High School from the ages of 14 to 18, where you then also play for your school. At that stage club sports also come into it.
When are the first selections of the more talented players then made ?
You play summer tournaments after the winter season and these games may be watched by scouts who will then contact you. The interesting bit is the strict ruling behind these recruiting drives. They may for example only call you once a week, and as a freshman (1 st year) you may not be offered a contract. As a sophomore (2 nd year) you may receive letters and gadgets, and as a senior you may sign your first contract. The team will then be allowed to offer you a 48 hour trip during which the details will be worked out, with a maximum of five such trips. All nicely regulated I think.
Was that the way it worked out for you ?
More or less, my first stop was in Hawaii, which was quite nice actually. From there I returned to mainland U.S. and moved on to Germany and Greece, to return to Hawaii for my degree.
Did you have your sporting career managed by then ?
Well yes, having a manager at that stage allows you to assess the offers around and to go for the on that suits you best.
You may have read Carsten’s comments on the managing and hire and fire policies, have you experienced any of that yourself?
This is not for me to comment on. Managers are essential to our trade and club decisions are also beyond our reach. So, no comment !
Does your position as the most experienced player in the team influence your play in game ?
Differences with other teams I played for are obvious, and being the most experienced player is not the most important one. Far more challenging is the coaching role I obviously play on the pitch. The age difference in a Ladies’ team is far wider, and here I would like to stress the way Carsten integrates all players in his teams.
Do the playing standards in Luxembourg meet your expectations ?
I certainly like the way T71 plays its features, and I have seen a few games on the side; but for the moment it’s a bit early to make that kind of assessment.
Do you plan to carry on playing for any length of time?
Open skies here. I might do some coaching or continue in the teaching business in line with my university training. …….. Carsten Steiner indicating that there is a practice session about to start ……
Anything you intend doing over the Xmas recess ?
I will be in contact with my people and have some visits from back home, then there’s the internet and e-mail. My home place is not very much bigger than Dudelange, so I don’t miss any of the big city allure. Suits me just fine.
Thank you for the interview and enjoy your season with T71.