Nick Zanette: Football Coaching and Playing in Argentina

Why did you decide to go overseas to coach football?

I undertook this project as I had to complete 12 weeks of working abroad as part of my degree studying Spanish. I didn’t want to just study at a university abroad but was very keen to really submerge myself in a country’s culture and get lost in its people and ways. Sporting Opportunities gave me this possibility and what better way than to be involved with football in Argentina!

What did you achieve in SPORT from the experience?

First and foremost, my Spanish improved remarkably, as I really had to get on with it to coach and guide the players I was with. On top of this, working with Sacachispas, the team I was sent to really helped me to improve my coaching skills, and gave me an insight into how a top team trains and is run, something I relished and enjoyed waking up for every morning.

What did you achieve PERSONALLY from the experience?

My Spanish grew in confidence ten fold! As well as this, adapting to live in an environment and culture totally different on the other side of the world helped me mature and become more independent. Working within the football team helped me with team work and having to adapt to get on with people of all ages and backgrounds.

What was a typical day like?

I woke up quite early, about 7am, and made it to training on the bus for 8.30am, whereby, the first team trained until just before 12pm. Then I would go into town and have lunch and check out the city before heading back to work with the juniors for 3.30pm until 5.30pm. After that I was free to do as I pleased.

What are your most memorable moments?

Trips with the team to away games were amazing and emotional and typical of Argentine football! Visiting the Boca Juniors stadium for a match was an amazing experience I will always remember! Also, my trip to Mendoza and Mar del Plata was incredible cities to visit.

What was the social life like?

Buenos Aires is truly a 24hr city! No matter what time or what day there is something to do and not only that, you can do it in so many different parts of the city which leaves your choices endless!! There is a great social scene for young people and students and many people open to meet fellow travellers.

What were the local people and culture like?

The Argentine people are fantastic, proud of their nationality but keen to learn from foreigners too. The culture was also amazing, and Buenos Aires itself is like its own county. The country is too huge to bracket it as one culture and a trip out of Buenos Aires will show you just that! So much to explore!

What did you try that you had never tried before?

I ate Llama meat which was great! Drank ‘Mate’ (Argentina’s National drink) almost as much as the locals and danced tango in San Telmo! As well as visiting the mountains in the north and seeing the Inca pueblos I never knew about.

What are your top 5 must-see places in Argentina?

  • Buenos Aires : San Telmo, La Boca
  • Mendoza and the wine tasting
  • Pumamarca and Tilcara up north in Jujuy
  • Mar del Plata La Bombonera
  • Tigre

What are your top 5 things to do in Argentina?

  • Boca Game
  • The incredible steak restaurants all over!
  • Mendoza wine tasting
  • Dance Tango
  • Eat a choripan

What were you doing before you went away?

Studying at the University of Manchester doing a degree in Spanish and so had to undertake a period of 8 months abroad.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to go on the trip and how did you overcome them?

Being away from home is obviously hard, but the people I stayed with welcomed me from the start and made it much easier. Also, at first I didn’t have internet but there are cafes everywhere. Apart from that I didn’t really have any problems.

If you took a gap year, career break or student work experience, why did you do this, and what have you gained from doing so?

Due to Uni….so much, improved my language and matured as well as meeting people and having experiences that you cannot just do by staying at home. Visiting places that may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experiencing cultures unknown to me previously!

Has the experience affected your ‘life plan’ in any way and if so how?

Definitely, it has made me really consider Buenos Aires and Argentina as a possible destination to work in once I have finished studying. The people I met and the experience I had really have left a lasting impression on me. I would not think twice about returning for a few more years in the future.

Would you recommend it to others and if so why?

Yes defiantly. As a chance to get away from what one knows and not just that but to one of the greatest countries in the world. If someone has an interest in football then they would really enjoy it as the country is mad for it and they will learn so much! Also, there is so much to visit and see and not just in Buenos Aires, so it’s a great place to work and visit and volunteer!

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