JOHN KRETLOW - Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Like many professional athletes, the sport they play can sometimes take them on incredible journeys throughout the planet.
Troy Ready is no different, but the Spokane, Washington native's journey led him to a place where no other American soccer player had ever played in.
After spending years in the lower leagues of professional American soccer, Ready joined FK Vakhsh in the Vysshaya Liga of Tajikistan. His role though has changed in his time in the central Asian nation, as he has gone from player, to assistant coach, and now to technical director of his club and the Tajikistan national side.
The 30-year old was a standout winger at the University of Washington and spent time playing for the USL version of the Portland Timbers. Ready though always had a penchant for working on humanitarian causes, and one included joining Ambassadors in Sport in Tajikistan. There, Ready got his shot at a playing career in central Asia.
"In 2005 I was invited to play on a professional soccer tour with a team called Ambassadors in Sport," Ready explained. "It was a compilation of several past and current players playing against Tajikistan's National team, Olympic team, and also they flew Afghanistan's national team to the country."
It was not long until Ready and his wife decided to make the jump to central Asia. "So in the midst of being there and seeing all of the opportunities football may unlock, it ended up being a good opportunity," Ready said. "And over the course of the next six years we made slow steps to moving ourselves and our family and making that our new home."
After spending some time as a player in Tajikistan, and going through the growing pains of communicating in a completely new language, Ready's role has changed to technical director.
"Though I couldn't express myself and couldn't really speak, I was able to immediately step on the field, and (although) can't do really anything in this culture yet, I can do this," explained Ready.
The Washington native's relationships in his new home all stemmed from soccer. It was these relationships that started on the field that gave Ready a chance to prove his soccer knowledge to the community and eventually expand his role.
"That really is the core of my friendships in Tajikistan are members of FK Vakhsh, and was really helpful to establish myself as someone that could play and does know what he's doing on the field in terms of catapulting me into these roles of coaching in these last few years."
Ready was also contacted by the Colorado Rush, a group that runs many youth clubs in the US and abroad, and opened a partnership with the organization and the Tajikistan federation.
"This was just a huge key in unlocking some of the doors to what I was being offered as technical director of the Tajikistan federation," explained Ready. "That being with the Rush's help was able to propose an initiative with a few clubs throughout the country. It was 18 teams, six of them are women's teams, which in Tajikistan's context is a big undertaking."
Now, Ready is concentrated on his new posts and taking on new hurdles. The former Timber is looking at "mostly opportunities in a growing federation. There have not been many expectations for what a technical director's responsibilities are. Really I'm in a great position in terms of everything being a bonus."
With the support of the Colorado Rush and the Portland Timbers, Ready is looking for exposure, and growing the sport for both women and men alike. "More than anything with these opportunities, there's a lack of quality training services, some of the cultural issues of enabling girls to play," Ready explained about the obstacles in the near future.
"But I think were optimistic that my friend, the general secretary, is very forward thinking," Ready went on to explain. "They want to see women's football advance. They have a deep passion for the men's national team. They're working on licensing coaches. So the movement is good."
Even with all of his roles and posts, Ready also has another goal in mind. He is interested in becoming the Vakhsh head coach.
"I've been in contact with the federation again. The former head coach of Vakhsh left to coach a different team up in the north," said Ready. "So, I'm putting my name in the hat for taking over as the head coach of Vakhsh along with the national team responsibilities and overseeing some of the youth clubs. "
In the end though, Ready has always been interested in humanitarian efforts along with the football aspect of his job. The former Husky is excited for his unique and rewarding opportunity in central Asia.
"It will be busy but it's something that I love to do, and it's a great platform beyond the football side of things," Ready went on to say. "There's just so many platforms for life and community development that have opened up as a result of coaching and playing It's a great platform beyond the football field."