Soccer

Up front with Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Martin Nash

Martin Nash reflects on his development in soccer and gives advice for young players starting out in the game.

Athleticism runs in Martin Nash's family.

The Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder's older brother Steve is star point guard with the Phoenix Suns and a two-time NBA most valuable player, his father was a minor league pro soccer player while and his mother played for England's national netball team.

Even though he's often overshadowed by his more famous brother, Martin has achieved success on his terms, having established himself as one of this country's best midfielders and as a mainstay with the Canadian national team.

In a one-on-one interview with CBCSports.ca, Martin Nash recalls a childhood in Victoria spent playing soccer which led to a professional career in the sport he loves.

What were your intentions when you first started playing soccer?

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 seem 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 sports 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 the used to. Guys like 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 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.

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