Eighteen-year-old Justin Hansen was so young he can’t even remember when he first touched a soccer ball.
“I believe it was around three or four [years old],” said Justin who, after years of honing his skills in the sport, has now taken his talents to the soccer hotbed of Holland after being selected to play for the under-19 v.v. OJC Rosmalen’s division three club.
“My plans for this year are to continue to develop and take in as much as I can from the Dutch style of play.”
Justin said he realized he had a passion for soccer at a young age when he discovered the ability to beat players off the dribble and score goals.
Also growing up playing rep hockey with the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association, Justin said he places a strong value on education.
“I’ve always had an eye on returning to North America to pursue a university degree, as well as continue playing for a varsity squad,” he said. “But I’m really enjoying the lifestyle here.
“I’m playing for a well-managed club, which makes things easier. I was fortunate to have spent a month and a half in Europe prior to moving here through the European Football School tours, which made it quite easy.”
Of his favourite memories to date in the sport, Justin points back to winning the year-end Revelstoke tournament in his under-18 season with his dad as coach.
“It was always the wrap up tournament of every year and being U18 it meant that youth soccer was finished for me, so it was a perfect ending for many years of playing for Williams Lake and my dad being my coach,” he said.
“[Also] being selected to the U18 High Potential Prospects team by the Vancouver Whitecaps and only being 16 is an accomplishment that really inspired me to pursue soccer as far as I can.”
He credits the Vancouver-based European Football School and its head coaches Saibo Talic and his son, Amar Talic, for presenting him many opportunities in the sport.
“I’ve played against first-, second- and third-division teams all over Europe including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland and Austria.”
His favourite players are Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane.
And just like the freedom he’s been granted to travel abroad with the sport, Hansen said it’s also the freedom he likes most about the game.
“You can love so many different parts about the sport such as scoring or dribbling, but my favourite would be how I can be an individual within a team,” he said.
“I know that you need 11 players to be successful and I love contributing to that 11.”