They have been here for about half a week, but this is not yet long enough to adjust to the time zone and climatic challenges, according to Everton’s football players.
Said defender John Stones, at an Everton fans meet-and-greet session organised by the club’s shirt sponsors Chang Beer, “I am still working on the time difference and the heat in Singapore – coming from England, we are obviously not used to the tropical climate and sweat a lot at games.”
He added, “But today, we played golf – that was really nice being out on the golf course and having a break from football. The food in Singapore is also great and the hotel chefs have been preparing really nice dishes for us. We are looking forward to enjoying our last few days here.”
Agreed attacking midfielder Steven Naismith, “It has definitely been a culture shock for us, in terms of the climate in Singapore.”
Pre-seasons of today are different to a decade ago
Naismith also added that the football pre-seasons, are generally very different today, compared to about ten years ago when he had recently started his football career. He said, “Today, we travel around the world a lot, but in the past, the pre-season was a lot more relaxing and you could get away from it all by taking complete holidays. But now the breaks are much shorter and you are playing football from Day One. However in terms of travelling, it is more enjoyable as we not only get the chance to explore different countries, but we also get to see how football is being played in other parts of the world.”
At the same time with tournaments such as the Barclays Asia Trophy going on, pre-seasons can be a lot more competitive because there is silverware up for grabs. However, in the past, football games would mainly consist of pre-season friendlies and opportunities for clubs to mingle with fans.
Everton is happy with their progress in the Barclays Asia Trophy
And on the football front, the Everton players are also happy that things for the team, have gone well so far in the Barclays Asia Trophy. Said Everton captain and defender Phil Jagielka, “So far it has been good (against Stoke) – we won the game on penalties and are now looking forward to the final against Arsenal on Saturday. The stadium should also be packed with fans for that game, so we are eagerly anticipating that as well.”
Fans in Singapore are just as boisterous as the fans back in England
Jagielka also added that Everton fans can be just as noisy as the fans back home in England – and are in no way more reserved, despite their Asian heritage. He said, “We always have so many Evertonians coming to meet us in Singapore and we love to spend time with fans, taking photos and signing pictures.”
He added, “We like to think that our fans back in England are noisy enough but it’s a bit hard to make enough noise with our 40,000-seater stadium at Goodison Park. But we also really appreciate the ones here and the passion that they show for the club.”
Camaraderie and friendship in the Everton dressing room
At the club, there is also plenty of camaraderie and friendship amongst the players themselves – which they are feeling very grateful for.
Said Stones, “It’s really unique that football brings together players from so many different countries. There may be an age gap of several years between the more seasoned and the younger players at the club, but it does not feel like that when we are together in the dressing room. Everyone is treated the same and we feel very fortunate to be in this position, as not many jobs can offer that.”
And they are hoping that the camaraderie and strong relationships with each other, will translate into a good season in 2015/2016. Added Everton defender Seamus Coleman, “We don’t want to set specific targets based on last season, but we are hoping to definitely do better. Also, we want to try and win something, be it the League Cup or the FA Cup. And of course the Barclays Asia Trophy will be a good start though to kick off the new season on a positive note.”
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