Editor’s Note: Junior goalkeeper Suzie Zigante has been selected to play for the Croatian National Team when they participate in the Balaton Cup Women's International Tournament in Hungary in early August. She will send a blog periodically to tell of her experience playing for her national team. This is her first blog before heading to Europe.


A month ago I got an email from the coach of the Croatian Women's National Soccer team. They asked me to compete in a tournament with their full squad in Hungary. 


So what do you do? There is no way you can deny such an opportunity to play with your national team. I have played with the U19 Croatian National team since I was 15 years old. But playing for the full team? This is big. This is exciting. A spark lifted in me, I have something to play and compete for that is bigger than myself. I accepted and the intense training began.


I ran every morning at 5 am before my 8-5 job, and I played soccer every night, either with my Super 20 TFC team or being coached by my parents, who played soccer at the highest level. After that, I would play pickup soccer with the local boys in the park. This was the everyday protocol, and I loved all of it (except running of course!!! ).


I quit my job and started training intensely twice a day for three-to-six hours each day. My Super Y team qualified to nationals, and I went to compete in Florida, getting some really good games under my belt before having to leave. I continued to play pickup with the boys which was very good for my speed of play, for usually they hit a much harder shot. My confidence was built as I trained with my best friends and made new friends along the way. 


So now here I am in the airport, currently in Atlanta. I have a four-hour layover before I fly to France and then finally the beautiful Zagreb, Croatia. From there, I am training with the U17 men’s Croatian National Team keeper coach before I head to Hungary. In Hungary. I will be plying a few games and heading back to Croatia. When I get back to Croatia, I will be exclusively training with the Women’s Croatian National team goalkeeper coach for a few days, I will watch a professional men's game and then finally head back to Raleigh. I have a day or two of packing and rest and then I will make my way to Asheville for the beginning of the season.