In America’s capital, where soccer is often overshadowed by other sports, Dutch footballer Wesel Sprangers is making his mark. At 25, he proudly wears the jersey of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a team not only known for their academic prowess, but increasingly standing out in the world of football.
Wessel’s football journey began at the age of 5.5 at SV Triborgh, now known as SV Reeshof. After a stint at Royal Antwerp FC and a successful spell at Willem II, he unexpectedly found himself at VV Donken. However, it was his curiosity about other cultures and football experiences that ultimately brought him to America. “An acquaintance offered me the opportunity to play one season in America. After approaching twenty schools, Gonzaga University felt like the perfect fit. The school’s facilities and reputation were decisive,” explains the goalkeeper.
Football at Gonzaga Bulldogs
When asked about the level at the Bulldogs, he compares it to U21 football in the Netherlands. “This is youth football, 18 to 25-year-old players. There is a lot of talent, but sometimes there is no maturity,” he shares. However, he observes the American mentality positively. “Never complain, work hard. We can learn something from that here,” says the 25-year-old goalkeeper.
A typical day in the season starts early for Sprangers. The alarm goes off at 6:00 am, followed by training until 9:00 am. Most teammates go straight to their lectures after practice. Sprangers combines his football commitments with his master’s degree and these lessons take place mainly in the evenings. During the day he does things for school and goes to the gym regularly. “Life here is like being a professional while you study, a unique experience.”
Apart from playing with different rules such as unlimited substitutions and pure playing time, Sprangers emphasizes the difference in mentality. “They always go 100% and always do their best. While the Americans want to roll up their sleeves and see where the ship is going, that sometimes clashes with the Europeans who want to build,” he notes.
Future plans and advice for young talent
Wessel Sprangers is relaxed about the future. “All options are still open. If there are any big offers, I’ll stay here in the US. Otherwise I’ll return to the Netherlands” He gives clear advice to young talents with dreams of an experience abroad: “If you have the chance, I recommend it 100%. It’s a unique experience, everything. You take care of yourself and you live pro-actively, while studying and making friends for life.
While the goalkeeper continues his football adventure in America, he remains involved in Dutch football, following the Eredivisie and his old club VV Tongen. A Dutch football player who makes his mark on American college football – a story that will surely have more chapters.
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