By Jason Cassidy
Martin Nash is a 33-year-old midfielder for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Nash began his professional soccer career in 1995 with the Vancouver 86ers and has represented Canada on numerous occasions.
Where did you grow up and what were your intentions when you first started playing soccer?
I grew up in Victoria. It's a nice small town outside Vancouver and, at the time, it was just to have fun. We just played every sport and wanted to have fun doing it.
How did your parents or siblings help you as a child?
My dad definitely did. He played professional soccer so it was his favourite sport. He was a good player and guided us along the way. I usually played up an age group with my brother so I could make it easier for my parents.
Did you play any other sports as a child?
Oh yes, basketball, hockey, baseball, lacrosse and soccer.
What were the key contributors to your development as a soccer player?
I think from a young age, having a good understanding of the game and a good skill set. My dad worked with us a little bit in the backyard and made soccer like it wasn't work, it was just fun.
How do you feel about children testing out a variety of sports?
From my experience, we played every sport. We didn't really concentrate on one. Even when we got to high school, my brother and I really concentrated on basketball but we still played soccer. I didn't really choose soccer until after my first semester of university. Just by learning other sports, you learn how sport in general works. I definitely think playing other sports helped me.
How has the game changed since you were a kid?
Obviously some of the rules have changed and the style of the game has progressed. In the last 20 years the balls have changed a lot, which makes it easier to play a longer ball and make further passes. The way it travels through the air these days creates more goals and an exciting game. They've become lighter and knuckle easier than they used to. Guys like [Cristiano] Ronaldo can take a free kick from 40 yards away because he can make it knuckle.
Can you describe some of the lessons you've learned in life from soccer?
Soccer has definitely helped me in life. Playing on a team teaches you how to communicate with very different people. You learn that everyone's different and the way in which you approach people and talk to them varies. It has a lot of life skills in the game and in team sport. I think I've learned a lot in how to treat people and how to work with those people.
At this point in your career, what are your aspirations?
I want to play as long as I can. Once you stop it's over and I love playing so much that I want to keep going and enjoy it while it lasts.
How has the season gone for you?
It has gone all right for me, but I'm more worried about how my team is doing because soccer is such a team sport. It takes more than one person to win and I try to do my job in order to help the team win. We haven't gotten as good … results as we'd like, but we're working together as a team to get better. The joy of this sport is watching players come together and improving as the season goes along.
How would you describe your style of play?
I would say I'm more of a passer. I have good vision and I try to keep possession to play the forwards in and play dangerous balls. I also like to help the team to start attacks.
What type of advice would you offer a young soccer player?
Just have fun and work hard.
Children need to enjoy it or else they won't make any progress in the game. If it's getting to be too much, pull back a bit. To succeed, I think you have to enjoy it. The ones that do enjoy it have a better chance of succeeding.
Do you think kids are enjoying the game?
In all sports it seems kids are more pressured than when I was playing. With so many professional sports, such high profile and money, I think parents push their kids a little bit too hard. When that happens, kids burn out and don't want to keep playing. I think it's sad to see so you've got to enjoy it.