Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Dear FIFA, My people are waiting for a call, Love Rene

A BREAKTHROUGH!  No, I don’t speak Macedonian.  No, I don’t know where my job or my home will be.  No, I haven’t received my Peace Corps issued heater (seriously!).  But these issues are completely trivial because I found out that…wait for it…


I know, you all thought I was totally clumsy, right. I thought so, too.  It might have been seeing videotapes of myself spinning in the outfield with my glove sitting in the grass during my T-Ball games in second grade.  And then there was the incident when I pegged a team member in the chest while playing catch at a softball game last year.  Whoops.  But leave it to Macedonia to really bring my unknown talents to the forefront, because I just played a mildly competitive game of football (not American) and totally loved it.

It all started with trickery.  My host mom, Biliana, said we should go to a match at the high school that was being sponsored by the local women’s organization.  The match was in support of the FARE program which is Football Against Racism in Europe, so how could I say no, right.  Biliana promised ten minutes so that I could come home and study.  Ha.  I get there and the coordinator slaps a t-shirt on me and says it would be a symbol of support and friendship if I played.  Easy for you to say, man, you didn’t get pigeonholed as right field in T-ball because you were an embarrassment to the sport…of T-ball.

Also, they want me to make a speech.  No prob, speeches are my fave.  So I address the crowd with my most diplomatic face and then I go hyperventilate in the corner for the next five min while the crowd is jamming to some spirited Macedonian pop music.  It’s OK, I tell myself, you watch soccer all the time.  Clearly there has to be some skill transfer between you and the TV.  Clearly.  Maybe you can channel the spirit of a dolphin or the foot of Michael Ballak or the entire animal kingdom to help you.

And then (CRAP!) the game starts and immediately the ball is kicked to me.  Panic, panic, panic.  I stop the ball and pass it to a foreward who actually receives it.  Holy crap!  I just made a play!  I don’t suck!  Huzzah!

Well, my team didn’t win.  But I got the award for best player!  It’s sad, but it is my first merit based acknowledgement in team sports!  And most importantly I didn’t embarrass the Peace Corps or all American women in general, so mission complete.  So at at the end of the day, I had to mentally high-five myself and grin as I enjoyed my juice pack.

Channeling the ferocity of a Lynx

Channeling the ferocity of a Lynx

Haley, Ivana and I

Haley, Ivana and I

The women of Na Zheni in Sveti Nikole

The women of Na Zheni in Sveti Nikole



  Jonathan wrote @

I totally think you can be the female version of Pelé or David Beckman…..and not just in sheer soccer skills….but in terms of notoriety.

I knew I should have gotten an autograph when I had the chance.

  Auntie Lynn wrote @

Wow Nay Nay,

I knew you were a woman of many talents and can achieve anything you set out to do but this one deserves a “Piece of Cake”. Should we look for you entering the next Olympics? Way to go girl, you make us all proud. Keep up the hard work and glad you are having some fun as well.

Love you bunches,

Auntie Lynn

  TerryR wrote @

Coach Rohrs and T-ball taught you something, afterall! Besides, you were cute with that big ol’ hat falling down over your eyes, and an anchor-like glove on the end of your puny little arm. (I think you were channeling the ferocity of a kitten back then.)

Pee Hee Nay is a JOCK!! ‘Raaaaay!

  Brandon wrote @


Who knew our trip through Europe during the World Cup would make you into such a Calciatrice (female soccer player). Man I wish I was there to see that! Stop giving me reasons to miss you! Hope everything is going good.

There’s no better way to show Europeans that you can hang better than playing Futball. Wait til they taste your salsa!!

Ciao Bellissima !!!

  Mo wrote @

Your awesome! There must be something about Europe. Or all the Planets just happen to be all inline. When you come home you will have to show us your cool moves with the soccer ball inside your mom’s house.

  joe b wrote @

Maybe you can qualify for the macedonian womens’ national team, you will still be there when the next world cup comes around… you are awesome!

  Stacy wrote @

Wow, Princess Walks-like-duck makes an appearance in a futball game. Kudos neener!

  gillian22 wrote @

i think i would have had a heart attack. somehow its fitting that i ended up in a country where karaoke is the sport of choice…they betta watch out when i break out the “love child” or “on the radio:!!!

i am excited that you found your inner athlete. i have found mine and his name is billy blanks.
xoxo gillian

  TerryR wrote @

Now wait, Stacy, let’s be fair. What was your Indian camping name? Hmmm. I’m thinking maybe it was “Princess Little Turd”?!

  heidi wrote @

loves it. you should come bring your skillz to my village and play with me and ree.

  Heather wrote @

Well, we here in Camden are very proud!!! Just promise me whatever you do, you won’t be talked into yard work-no more poison ivy for us!!!!


  Brigid wrote @

It seems we have another competition roaming over our heads, “MVP”- The Biggest Trophy Wall.

Let’s see what you got, sport.

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