Former St. FX soccer star to play pro in Europe
Alix Bruch, 25, signs contract with ZFK Spartak Subotica in Serbia
It's been quite a week for former St. Francis Xavier University soccer star Alix Bruch.
On Wednesday, the 25-year-old midfielder travelled 8,500 kilometres from her home in Calgary to Serbia, where she is about to begin the next chapter in her soccer career as a professional player.
"It's really exciting but the last week or so has been a real whirlwind," said Bruch, following her first practice with her new team.
"My agent called me up really late last Thursday and asked me if I would be interested in going to Serbia. I didn't really have much time to think about it and I said, 'Sure,' and the next day it was done."
Bruch was an all-star at St. FX in Antigonish, N.S., and is the first women's soccer player from a Nova Scotia university to sign a professional deal. She played for the university from 2010 to 2014 and then took some time off from school to take a job back in her home province of Alberta.
"I was working as a geologist and I just kind of knew that wasn't where I wanted to be," said Bruch.
"I've been trying to land a pro deal for about a year now and I contacted Graham Kennedy, the coach at St. FX, and told him what my plan for the future was and he convinced me to go back to St. FX to play."
Bruch returned to St. FX last fall for her fifth and final season of eligibility and led the team to a conference title.
Her new team is ZFK Spartak Subotica and the season starts next month.
Subotica is a city of 100,000 people in northern Serbia near the Hungarian border. Belgrade is 200 kilometres to the south while Budapest is the same distance to the north.
"I've only been here for two full days now but I've seen some of the city and it's really nice," said Bruch. "It's really, really hot, around 38 degrees, so that's been one of the biggest adjustments. I'm learning about Serbia as I go."
The Subotica club is a perennial participant in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Bruch has joined the team in time for pre-season games in Spain next week, followed by Champions League matches later in the month.
She said there is a language issue but she expects that to become a little easier once she settles in with her teammates.
"Some of the girls on the team speak some English but there's kind of a disconnect. There's a Brazilian and an African on the team and the rest are from Serbia," said Bruch.
"The sports culture here is a lot different, soccer is the biggest sport in Europe and women's soccer here gets a lot of support."