Ok so, this is the last part of our interview. What are some other difficulties you faced? Or what are some advice for others? Well, I've always heard that professional athletes face a lot of mental pressure, like you have a lot to deal with. So, how did you face it? And especially now you also have academic pressure? Because your requirement for staying in school team, GPA 3.5, is actually quite high because I think for a lot of people, I feel like even if they don't play football or do college sports, they can't get 3.5. So how you deal with the pressure?
Tang Han 0:34
So, to be honest, I faced different kind of pressure in China compared to playing in the United States. It's just different. If there's pressure but I don't see hope, I would think the pressure is too much. But if the pressure shows the way for me to move forward, I feel like I'm going to enjoy the pressure, Well, so in fact, there are also a lot of athletes have mental pressure and stressed because most of them always think about whether it is worth it or not doing what they are doing right now. Because they always ask themselves, do I really know what am I doing? Sometimes it's like because of losing one game, then for you maybe three or four years of hard work will be in vain. I used to think about these at the time: should I continue to play football? Or should I try something new? I've been struggling to decide. But I like football, I love it, should I go? So, this kind of thing makes you face dilemmas, and it will make you very stressful. So basically, in China, you have mental pressure because you can't see your future. If you can see the future, then everybody is like no matter how hard it is, I can keep going as long as I can. No matter how tired I am, I'm willing to give all I have. On the other hand, in the US the academic requirement is pretty high. But for football practice, I think It's all OK, like it doesn't give me too much pressure. Having this kind of pressure makes me happy. It's a driving force, a source of motivation for me, to move forward. But actually, sometimes if, for example we usually don't train during the second half of the semesters because you have to take all kinds of exams during the final weeks. It was quite stressful for me during that time. Last semester, we had to stay at home because of the pandemic, so, I have to face all kinds of exams and schoolwork. When it comes to the afternoon, I always feel so stressed and crazy, like really want to scream it out. I felt so uncomfortable, and I feel very depressed staying in my dorm room. Then I opened the window and made a cup of coffee and drank it, wanting to calm down and letting it out but all of a sudden, it broke out.
So now you actually have more academic pressure, but not so much mental pressure from playing football.
Tang Han 3:08
Yes, for me playing football it's all free now. There's not a lot of pressure except for losing games. But actually, losing is ok for me now too because it's still an experience and I will find things to change for the next game. So basically, I only feel a bit pressured from schoolwork.
But for example, before when you were in China, maybe you put all of your attention on playing football, this one thing and just focusing on yourself. So that's why when you lose a game or can't see hope, it's a great blow to your mental health.
Tang Han 3:41
Yes, so there's a very common type of people or mindset in China and Chinese football. It's a very common phenomenon. You know "the frog in the well"? What's scarier is not the frog in the well, it’s that the people, the frogs, that know they are at the bottom of the well, but they don't want to jump out. They just want to stay there and not going anywhere. For me, this is the scariest and this is why I wanted to leave and come to the US to start a new chapter of my life.
So, the last question is, do you have any advice for those girls who want to develop a career in professional football? Are there any more suggestions? Or if they want to play football at US universities? What advice do you have for them? For example, some suggestions for preparation or other considerations.
Tang Han 4:35
Well, I think whether you want to choose professional football or not or want to go to the United States and other countries. You must be firm in your choices. Don't care about other people's opinions too much. You must have a firm voice. The most important is you may not see the effect in the short term. You can't see the end results. But when you stick to it, you will eventually get what you want. So, for example, I knew when I came to the US, there would be a transitional period. This is for sure. There would be problems like discrimination and language barrier. Indeed, later on, it did happen. But I didn't regret my decision. I was ready to face the unknown. Well, for example, when you choose a path, taking an unknown road, you feel excited instead of being afraid then I think that's the right choice for you. At the time, the moment I got on the plane, I just knew everything would change after I arrived the US. Although I didn't know what the change was going to be exactly, I knew it would definitely be a very big change. So, I was very excited. I was really looking forward to something new, something that would happen in the future. I'm looking forward to both the good and the bad.
Yes, exactly. So, for those who are slightly younger than you, those who have not entered college but should be preparing soon, if they are interested in coming to the United States to play football and study here. As a person who has been through this, what do you think they should do? Especially since you prepared in a harry, what would you do if you could do it again? In other words, how would you recommend them to better prepare themselves?
Tang Han 6:32
First of all, when you come to the US, whether you were in China or not, coming to the US will allow you to see more and know more people. In terms of language as well as cultural differences, you have to be as prepared as possible because I was at a disadvantage since my English wasn't too good. In addition, in terms of economic problems, if it's really hard for your family to support you to come to the United States then I wouldn't recommend you come. Because the truth is international students can't really work here and there's no way to go home to make more money, so you probably have to rely on your parents to support you. This is the real situation. But you can also try to get a full-ride scholarship, so that it may reduce your financial pressure as well as your family's financial pressure. So, these are something you must consider and prepare: whether or not you can receive a full-ride scholarship; what's your education and English level; then the financial problems, if it is hard to afford? Basically, that's it, and also, you have to prepared mentally. You have to be prepared for what you would face away from home by yourself. Be prepared to face difficulties. You have a full-ride, right?
Yeah, right, for a full-ride scholarship, you still need to cover your own living expense right? Like it only covers tuition?
Tang Han 8:08
Yes, tuition is covered, and then housing and all other things are covered too. They also give me some extra stipend, like spending money, but not too much.
So, you live in the dorm right now?
Tang Han 8:21
Ah, yes, but I live in a single room because I don't really like sharing a room with others. I told them I want a single room.
That's great! Ok then, this is the end of our interview. Thank you! Thank you very much!
Thank you everyone for tune in to our career series brought to you by Soccer Girl Goals and Passion FC! Mentioned at the start of interview, we hope that this series can show people that playing and having a passion for football can provide you with opportunities both within and beyond football.
This is the sixth and last interview of #TheCareerSeries. We hope this series shed some insights into the stories of Asian footballers around the world, and also gave you some advice whether you choose to pursue football full-time or in parallel with your careers in other areas.
Thank you for tuning in!