IN these strange COVID-19 times, former Hakoah FC junior Ryan Blumberg finds himself temporarily back in his home city of Sydney, in between overseas stints of his elite football career.
The 21-year-old Moriah College alumnus played as a centre back in the UK in 2017 and 2018 for Charlton Athletic FC’s U23s, earning a start for their senior team in a League Cup match against MK Dons.
Early last year he decided to accept a soccer scholarship to study finance at the University of Maryland near Washington DC and join its 2018 US College NCAA Division 1 premiership-winning team, the Terrapins.
Speaking on The Round Ball Project podcast last month, Blumberg said he learned a lot at Charlton, but “needed something new and fresh”.
Redshirted for the US college season in 2019-20, Blumberg concentrated on his studies and training in preparation for making his mark this season, which is pencilled in to start in late July, but will likely be delayed.
In February and March, Blumberg was selected for, and completed, the spring term of the Maryland Made Leadership Academy.
But when COVID-19 started to cause havoc across the USA and all university campuses closed, Blumberg decided to return to Sydney and bide his time while studying online.
“America has been a great move for me so far – my coach [Sasho Cirovski] is very demanding of his players, which I like.
“The facilities at Maryland are incredible, and I’ve found the quality [of training] is – and it may be surprising to many – better than at Charlton’s U23s.
“The university has many Jewish students, so I’ve got to go to Shabbat dinners – those little things make a difference while you’re away from home.”
Blumberg said he is sticking to following a daily strength and conditioning program while in Sydney, lifting weights and doing yoga to stay in top shape.
“The plan is to hopefully go back to Maryland by late July, but of course that will depend on an easing of restrictions.”