Karina's World Cup Journey

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Ciao Everyone,

We are now on the countdown with less than a month to go to the first game of my 4th World Cup in Germany. It has been quite an interesting time since my last entry. I’ve been training a lot, played in a couple games, traveled with the team and personally and this experience will definitely be one I will never forget.

Every World Cup has had a different feel for me and this one is not any different. I am older and wiser now :) of course, but having residency out here in Italy has  been something I will never forget. As I told you in my past entry, living in a country where there is such passion for the game almost makes you fall in love with the sport all over again.  When I head back home, it will seem strange to walk into a restaurant or public place and not see a group of people huddled around a television excitedly watching a game.   To give a frame of reference- for my fellow NHL and Vancouver Canucks lovers, imagine the excitement in Vancouver now as we go after the Stanley Cup. Every time our local team of Roma is playing or there is a Champions league game is on, it's that same kind of excitement here.  It is almost unheard of for a place not to show these games and no matter what language you are speaking; the love for the game needs no explanation.

 We had 10 days off so I traveled to some surrounding countries. I visited my old high school friend, Cristy in Paris.  I have been to Paris a couple times prior,  but this trip was by far the best. Seeing a city through the eyes of a local is so much better as you get to experience the truth of that area. We ate at spots that were not on the tourist 'radar,' but rather, were favorites of the locals. We had a picnic in Versailles, which for those who are history buffs know, was the residency for the Kings back in the day, and particularly of interest to me was Marie-Antoinette. It's amazing to see how they lived and the architecture and richness that is maintained to this day. I of course took Cristy to the PUMA store in Paris and as we were looking though the little ipads, I found my last journal entry here, so of course we took a picture of that and the items we were deciding on.  We also had fun taking pictures outside of the Louvre where the famous Mona Lisa and many other famous paintings are held. Somehow our idea of taking fun pictures attracted extra attention….I'm still wondering why. The funny thing is after we walked away, some of the people who thought I was weird for taking a jumping picture, took some action pictures themselves. We had a good laugh about this.

I then traveled to see my old WPS LA Sol teammate, Camille Abily, in Lyon for 2 days.  Her parents were in town for a night and her mom spoiled us with some French Crepe cooking. It was nice to see her in her home environment and see how professional her club is. Congratulations to her club of Lyon by the way as they just won Champions League 2-0 against a strong Germany squad.

I then met my cousin, Niki in Venice, which I had never been to. With what I do, I have the opportunity to travel the world and see many different cities and I can honestly say, Venice is a city like no other. Its beauty and character makes it so unique. I will post pictures on my website over the next couple weeks to try and do justice, but this is a place that I highly recommend visiting. Transportation is either walking or via water (either by the private gondolas or water taxi's) and again, the architecture is astounding.

We traveled to Florence where we did a cooking class and wine tasting in Tuscany with a couple of my teammates (Kaylyn Kyle, CarmMoscato, and EmilyZurrer) and then back to a day in Rome. 

It was a nice break to get away from our everyday thinking. Sometimes people forget that no matter what you do and how much you may love what you do, having a balance is just as important. I love every single moment I am on the soccer field yet at times, to get a break (even just a mental break) is important in order to keep myself sharp and fresh. We had fitness programs we followed while on the break and there were mornings I got up at 530am to make sure I got the workout in because of the activities we had planned for the day. I am not much of a morning person, but in order to achieve any goal, you have to stay dedicated to it no matter what circumstances are presented before you. We got back into camp and had a series of double days straight away- but I had such an extra pep in my step from the break and felt refreshed to start back up.  I could tell the break was worth it.

A couple days later, PUMA came to Italy to shoot for the documentary "My Day, My life". It's a series where PUMA has taped its athletes from different countries as they prepare for the World Cup. Marta, ARod, Alex Scott and myself are fortunate enough to be with this incredible brand and series. I cannot wait to see how it all turns out. The crew followed myself and my teammates (and fellow PUMA athletes) Desiree Scott, Kaylyn Kyle, Mary-Eve Nault, Robyn Gayle, Rhian Wilkinson on a typical day for us on and off the field.  I'll send a video with some footage once I figure out just how to work this stuff. We did some fun stuff outside of the Coliseum, Trevi fountain, the Vatican, the Spanish steps and of course us eating gelato and pizza. One highlight was as we were driving to the Spanish steps; our van was stopped and told to take a detour. Of course we asked what the detour was and come to find out, it was because Hilary Clinton was out shopping.  Upon hearing that, we all hoped out of the van (James Bond style) and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her as she walked down the street. It's amazing the amount of security that is required for her to just walk a couple of blocks. 

 As a team, we are preparing with anticipation for the opening game against Germany. We've had a couple international "friendlies" against Switzerland, one here in Rome and the other in the beautiful city of Zurich. I had never been to Zurich and it has always been one of the cities I wanted to see.  It certainly lived up to my expectations. I controlled my love for chocolate and only ate some Lindt chocolates after the game.  Unfortunately, our visit was very short but Switzerland is a country I will return to enjoy as a tourist one day.

As I said before, the days to the first game are coming closer and closer. My next entry I will tell you about the different emotions I feel at this time. Know that I feel so blessed to be in this position at this point in my life. I truly love what I do and try to make sure I take nothing for granted. Till next time…..thanks for checking in



For more information and picutres from Karina's travels, check out her webiste: KarinaLeBlanc.com

Twitter: karinaleblac

Facebook Fanpage: Karina LeBlanc (KK) Fanpage