Thonon, I’m Coming Back!
This piece was written by Jamal Clay, a frequent contributor of Globally Ballin and the founder of "The Athletes Forum"
The 30th of June 2018 was my last game for Thonon. It was the French championship game so a bit over 2 years ago. First, I am happy to return to the Geneva lake region, in which I grew up. The scenery is beautiful, and I missed being there during my time in Germany. Secondly, we lost the championship game in 2018, and heading back to play for Thonon means unfinished business for me. Everything other than winning the 2021 championship would be a huge disappointment. Last but not least, I am excited to meet my teammates and friends that I played with 2 years ago, as well as, all the people that surround the Panthers organization.
Entering a top team in the GFL taught me many things about myself. First, I needed to be tough physically but also mentally to focus on my goals as a player and deliver the 1/11th that is required for the team. On this level of football, you start to really feel the pressure to deliver your best performance as competition for starting spots is fierce. I was not starting right from the beginning and learning to deal with that has taught me to be more confident, patient, and thankful for what I have. My playtime in Germany really showed me how mental strength is just as important for athletes to succeed as being prepared physically.
I expected a high level of football in the GFL (for European standards) and that is what I got. Every game was a battle, and I had great fun playing against tough opponents. I was also impressed by the high professionalism of the New Yorker Lions and how it carried over to the playing field. All in all, it was a drastic change to the French league. I would advise any player that wants to be challenged to play in the GFL.
I think, given the situation with Covid, the next season will be totally different as we can expect very strict sanitary protocols and regulations. As for now, the start of the season will already be delayed but I keep my fingers crossed, that there will be some form of the season played in France. As far as the team itself is concerned, the organizational structure improved a lot. There are more coaches, the players have access to a high-quality strength and conditioning program and better medical support. I really expect these changes to make a difference.
You can expect of me that I am 100% invested in being the best player I can and that I will leave it all on the field. I am excited to see everyone again and can’t wait to get started practicing with the group, so let’s gets to work!