A tour with Edson Braafheid

From Amsterdam, via Munich and Glasgow, all the way to Kraichgau, Edson Braafheid has certainly led the career of a journeyman footballer. The Dutch defender has been part of the Sinsheim set-up since January 2011 and decided to spend some time with the new signing as he got to know his surroundings. What does 1899 have on offer for him?

The journey began with a trip to the training ground in Zuzenhausen. Travelling through the countryside, Edson is reminded of his homeland. "I was born in Surinam, a small country in the north of South America." He moved to the Netherlands aged 8, but has never lost contact with the country he was born in. "My two grandmothers both still live over there. I try to make the trip at least once a year in order to spend time with my family." For the family man, opportunities like this are the perfect chance to unwind. "My grandma does everything for me," he chuckles. "I've always packed on a few extra kilos by the time I leave." Easily lost for a player of Braafheid's athleticism. "Surinam isn't a poor country, but there are some people who don't have as much as others. We moved to Amsterdam and struggled to choose where to live. We ended up in Bijlmermeer, a place where you can meet people from all over the world."

Upon arriving at the Dietmar-Hopp-Stadium, an impressed Braafheid remarked: "So this is where the team won promotion to the Bundesliga?" The Dutch international was also pleasantly surprised with how the club has gone on to use their old stadium. Not only do the reserves and U-19 teams play their home matches inside it, but Hoffenheim have also created a youth-centre (KidZ), where children between the ages of 5 and 11 can learn about the beautiful game. The youngsters were clearly surprised to see the 1899 player, but he graciously spent time signing autographs and answering their questions. "I know what it is like because I have two children of my own. My son is a similar age to the kids here and he's definitely got the talent." A more important characteristic though, is his determination to win, a quality reminiscent of his father. "If I beat him on video games or in a garden kick about he'll be upset. He always wants to win even if there's nothing to win. Just like me. It's the most important quality to have as a professional athlete because it drives you to be disciplined."

En route to the second stadium tour Edson let us in on another of his passions in life: reggae music. "When I first arrived in Germany I was shocked at how popular Reggae was over here", stated Braafheid, who admits he is often at loggerheads with teammate Ryan Babel when it comes to the music selection on the car rides to training. "Ryan definitely likes to play the role of DJ", he conceded with a smirk before heading to the youth development centre the academy uses. Again the sight seemed to impress Edson as the training ground formally used by the first team now houses the up and coming talent that 1899 has to offer. With two grass pitches, a weight room, designated physical therapy rooms it really is a fantastic facility, something the 28-year old noticed too: "It's incredible. Even Ajax Amsterdam don't have a facility this good for their youth players."

Whether Edson will finish his career with 1899 is still not clear. "Everything is possible in football", he explained, but admitted he can see himself doing just that. "Since deciding to join the club, it's taken next to no time to feel at home. The potential for this club is enormous and I'm incredibly pleased that I can be a part of fulfilling the promise."


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