Williams lands pro soccer deal; signs to play in Liga, Latvia

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(Courtesy photo) Former Sandpoint soccer player Tanner Williams, pictured right during a standout career at Evergreen State College, just signed with a pro team in Latvia.

SANDPOINT — Sandpoint’s Tanner Williams got a chance to display his immense soccer skills on a U.S. team on a showcase tour in Ireland, and he didn’t disappoint, landing a professional contract recently.

Williams, 24, was signed by a 2nd division pro team in Stord, Norway, and promptly shipped off to play for the FK Jurnieks, a pro team from Riga, Latvia. The capital of Latvia has a population of 640,000 people, and soccer is big there.

After winning state titles at Sandpoint, Williams played in college at Concordia University and Evergreen State College, before a stint in 2016 on the Kitsap Pumas, a pro team a level below the MLS.

Williams has been giving lessons to some local youth players, which led to Dan Zavala and his daughters Gaby Lupan and Alexa Zavala to help raise nearly $2,000, which helped Williams make it to Ireland for the showcase tour.

n The following is an excerpt from Williams’ excellent blog, where he shares his journey in Ireland:

Futbol is a simple game, and as a player often times we complicate the flow. One piece of advice that stuck with me throughout the trip, and which I tried to apply each game, was “do the simple things well.”

This translates perfectly to life and on the field can be the difference between a win and a loss. I think all the players that were brought on the trip had the capability to land a professional contract, but at the next level the decisions are based off consistency. If you can’t preform at a professional level day in and day out (doing the simple things well) you will not play; it’s like any other job. My time at Kitsap Pumas (my first pro team) taught me this first hand and there were games where I didn’t play. Although I didn’t play then, those feelings stuck with me, and helped motivate me to make the most out of the opportunity I was given here in Ireland.

For anyone out there that might feel beat or defeated I say stick with it, your failure will only help inform the next attempt. The tricky part is attempting to potentially fail again. But let’s be honest, if you really want something you have to try (usually over and over again). It might sound cliché, but like any other piece of advice you can apply it or not.

I’ve become much more patient in recent years, and the Ireland trip has taught me to continue working on this virtue. Most of the boys left for home the day after the last game. The apartments quickly became empty, and truthfully I enjoyed the silence that was associated with the vacancy. I washed my clothes, read my book, did core, tried to find anything that would occupy my mind while my contract was getting sorted. All I knew was that a 2nd division team in Stord, Norway wanted to sign me without trial.

After some time I finally received a call from my agent telling me that I was signed but in the process was loaned out to a 2nd division team in Latvia. The coach and board of the Norwegian team wants me to spend the end of the season with FK Jurnieks and help them get promoted to the 1st division. Depending on how I play, I could get signed full-time with FK Jurnieks or move to Norway.

My goal is to continue working hard and make the most of the opportunities presented in front of me. Honestly I was surprised and felt confused when I heard that I was going to Latvia. That night I meditated for over an hour and came to many realizations. One kept reemerging and has been on the forefront of my mind since I left the states, which is how bless and fortunate I am for these opportunities. I spoke with my agent about the logistics: my salary, the accommodation, the flights, etc.

The next morning the club had purchased a 1st class flight from Dublin to Riga and I was off to my new home.

For more on Williams trip to Ireland, visit www.tannerww10.wixsite.com/thefutboljourney.

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