By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Moving everything across the ocean to a new continent – a new world as it could seem – can be life changing for just about anyone. For Carpathia FC’s Charlie Braithwaite, a Doncaster, England native, the move Stateside was a challenge worth taking on.
The 22-year-old Englishman recalls his time in England as a teenager looking to climb the ranks of professional soccer. Growing up and playing in different systems, he managed to play for Barnsley’s academy, only to run out of time on age with the club.
What would come next for the young forward? That answer came after exploring the possible opportunities in the United States.
“I heard about the chances you get coming over to America,” said Braithwaite. “You get the college degree and you get to play [soccer] at the same time, so I thought that was a good opportunity to take and I decided to come over.”
Braithwaite landed at Georgia Military College, a junior college program in Milledgeville, Georgia to begin his pursuit in America. Immediately, he knew there would be some major adjustments he had to make: we’re not talking technical or cultural adjustments, more so the intense southern heat.
“My first-ever game I played [stateside] was actually down in Daytona [Florida], and after the first 45 minutes, I was dying,” said Braithwaite. “We definitely don’t get hot weather like that in England.”
Beyond the climate differences, the technical aspects of the sport certainly vary from club to club, country to country. Braithwaite noticed that, but said his coaches were solid and did a great job helping him adjust and developing his ability.
After two years in Georgia, 35 goals in 34 appearances and an All-America honor later, he made his way to NCAA Division I play at Oakland University near Detroit. For the Golden Grizzlies, in 2019 he made 17 starts out of 18 appearances, scoring six goals. The following season – an abridged one due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Braithwaite scored eight goals in eight starts and was named as an All-Horizon League first team selection and to the 2020-21 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Men’s North Region first team.
This summer, the English forward joined NPSL’s Carpatha FC, yet again to find success on the pitch.
“Charlie is a player who at any moment in the game can make an impact,” .” said Franco Giorgi, Carpathia FC general manager. “Something that he has brought to the field is his consistent work ethic and ability to motivate the players around him to create a positive atmosphere. Having an outstanding season at Oakland University, Charlie has kept that form and has played a strong role in our current season.”
With Carpathia, Braithwaite has started six games, scored two goals and provided three assists so far this season.
With his move to the States, and his relocation to Michigan, Braithwaite found that he wanted to develop his tactical game in a multitude of ways, where he could adjust his game to the system he was in so as to become a versatile player. That has proven a success for him.
“Even playing in a summer league, I’ve learned to continue to give 100% in what I do on and off the pitch,” said Braithwaite. “Each league and level of soccer from the academy, to college and beyond has it’s lessons, and I’ve certainly learned a lot with Carpathia FC.”
Briathwaite’s ambitions reach high, as he aims to elevate his play to greater heights in the professional soccer world. He plans to work as hard as he can to achieve that goal, but has other plans if that pursuit comes to an end.
Having already obtained his Level 1 and 2 coaching badges, he hopes that one day he can use his leadership skills to make an impact outside of the lines on matchday. The forward has learned that he has gained confidence from his teammates and knows that helping others and giving back is something he wants to be involved with in the future.
Moving several thousand miles across the globe was always a sacrifice, but the reward during the pursuit of the dream could certainly make it worth the while for Braithwaite.
Photo Credit: Bob Bruce