Ethan Gage is a 24 year old midfielder currently playing for Bærum SK of the Norwegian First Division. A grad of the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency and Reading Academy, Gage is a former Canada U-20 Player of the Year winner. After polishing his skills at Nyköpings, joined Bærum this year and has found himself on the rise after a difficult start with the club. We spoke to him via email about curses, training in England and Scandinavian leagues.
SSPC: Since arriving at Bærum, you’ve been placed into a kind of substitute/depth role. Was that expected with move up in league level?
EG: At the start of our preseason here I was a starter, but right before the season started I injured my ACL, as soon as I recovered from that i pulled my hamstring, I have been out for 6 months, I have recently been back from injury a monthish ago, but I have had to work very hard to get my confidence back. The coach admitted to me after I signed here that he told the club to do what ever it takes to sign me, he had big plans for me, and I knew I would have been a big influence on the team if i had not go injured.
EG: Yes, Simon and I live only 45 minutes away, so we hangout sometimes in Oslo, I actually just played Adam’s team yesterday so I chatted with him a bit, but he lives a bit further away so we just talk sometimes
SSPC: You won the Canadian U-20 Player of the Year back in 2010 and since have suffered with injury and struggled for first team minutes like a number of winners of the award (e.g. Nana Attakora, David Edgar, Ryan Gyaki). Do you think of it as a cursed award?
EG: I’ve been asked that before, winning the U20 Player of the Year award is a curse, there is always that chance, but I don’t believe in superstition.
SSPC: With Straith’s and Thomas’ recent call ups, are you hopeful that you’ll find yourself getting a call up to the national team within the next year?
EG: I’m happy for them to get a call up, for myself I am not worried or stressing over it, I’m not bothered, I’m sure if I did not have to deal with all my injuries this year things may be a little different for me.
SSPC: After Reading, what motivated you to play in Scandinavia?
EG: I had a difficult time in England, I was young and England is a very brutal place to be, very physical and if you mess up in training they will make sure you know about it. I was not used to these sort of things in Canada. I struggled with a few things and at the end of it all I was unsure if I wanted to continue to play the game, but I went home for a bit and my agent mentioned going somewhere else and playing at a lower level to see if I still wanted to play, so he found a team in Sweden, and the rest is history.
SSPC: Many of us know how European league have one or two mega rich teams and a bunch of well off teams, but not a lot is known about playing in a league like Sweden’s third division or Norway’s second division. Could you provide the readers and myself an idea of what life is like for a player in those leagues?
EG: That is a tough question to answer, it’s more humbling, in all honestly there in small details and the pace of the play that are the biggest difference between levels here, and also most of the world really. So in one aspect you have an opportunity to work on some of your weaknesses and work on small details you want to improve because the pace is slower, but then to get back up the ladder to the higher leagues sometimes requires a bit of luck. That is what happened to me in Sweden, I improved but was very unlucky in the Swedish market. But that is how football goes sometimes.
SSPC: Your club (Bærum) currently find themselves in a relegation battle. How does the pressure of that impact the way you play each game and do you think playing in such a high pressure situation helps a player in the long run?
EG: I have never been in a situation like this one before so it is very interesting in many ways, to see how the team reacts and what it feels like to be at the bottom, it’s not a pleasant feeling. But I know the worst thing you can do to yourself is stress yourself out over it, this will decrease your performance level, best thing you can do is stay positive and that is what I am doing.
SSPC: Recently there has been a lot of talk about a full fledged Canadian pro league starting up in 2017, if the rumours are true is that something you would want to be a member of right from the start or would you rather wait until something like it was more established?
EG: I have always had my eyes for Football over here in Europe, its a different world here when it comes to Football, so no at the moment. I am not done playing here. But who knows, maybe in a few years from now I will change my mind, I am growing a lot as a person and learning a lot about myself with my time over here, we will see.