It's not unusual for soccer players at home and abroad to take language courses.
Many teams have language instructors on call should a player ever desire to take a few courses, and teams in Europe often have more than 3 different teachers on their lists. So it's safe to say that players learning languages in a global game is not unheard of at all, and in many ways is encouraged.
What is a bit unusual is for an entire team to go to Spanish/English classes as a group, and it's something FC Dallas players have been doing recently.
Why would they all attend language classes? If you consider the reasons, it makes a lot of sense.
From a practical standpoint, it´s smart to focus on both English and Spanish. English is spoken by the entire staff and most players on the team, while Spanish is spoken by a few coaches and several of the players, some of them quite critical. Raul Fernandez, David Ferreira, Jair Benitez, Fabian Castillo, and Blas Perez are all fairly rusty on their English, and some of them can barely speak it at all. The Latino contingent of Dallas isn't alone when it comes to having to learn a few new things.
Michel and Jackson also speak something other than English (Eric Hassli's English is quite good, so we'll ignore him for now), so they're in the same class as the rest of the Latinos . Luckily for them, Spanish is so, so similair to Portuguese that the slight differences will be irrelevant while learning English with Spanish speakers. How similair are the two languages? They are so alike that if it's written down, I can read Portuguese with 90% accuracy. So for once lumping everyone south of the border into one group is a perfectly reasonable decision.
The classes have a practical application on the field of play, as it will help the players communicate a little more effectively with their teammates, while also assisting any newcomers who might be shy.
The most important aspect though is that the excercise is an excellent way of reinforcing team chemistry, something which has been strong this year. After witnessing last year's lack of cohesion both on and off the field, FCD's management has taken a more proactive approach in helping to stregthen the bonds between American and international players. It seems obvious, but every little thing does help.
The players are already having fun with it on twitter.
Fernandez tweeted a picture of the team studying together, listing all their nationalities.
Sudamericanos+frances+panameno +hondureno (Peter, Ramón,Blas,Michel,Víctor,Jair,Fabián, Jackson y yo clases de ingles twitter.com/raulfernandezv…— Raúl Fernandez (@raulfernandezv1) April 22, 2013
Bobby Warshaw got in on the tweeting as well.
First day of spanish classes today. Yo soy Bobby y soy futbalista. Gonna be having family picnics with @superraton7 in no time.— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) April 22, 2013
Andrew Jacobson tweeted got in on it..
And newly drafted Walker Zimmerman had some fun thoughts as well. Apparently appending "o" to the end of words is an EZ Spanish translation tool. I've never understood that one...
This next phrase might be my new favorite: "Golantero"
It's play on words in Spanish between "delantero" (Forward) and "gol". I don't know if that was George John's phrase, or Zim's, but it's now ripe for the picking.
Do you think this is a good idea, or should more time be dedicated to training on the pitch?