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Footballer switches gears

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Bermuda footballer Liam Evans is the strength training coach at PhysioActive Ltd (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

In college, Liam Evans joined the football team with dreams of becoming a professional player.

He had been recruited by a scout for Northern Kentucky University while playing with the Bermuda national football team in Alabama.

At 17 he headed off. His early days with his Norse team-mates were a shock. Everyone seemed fitter and stronger and able to do double whatever he could.

“My first time in the university gym was really intimidating,” he said. “I had no experience with strength training in Bermuda. I had never done any squats or weightlifting.

“That impacts your playing time when you get to the field. The coach might see that you are not up to the level of play that other students are. For me it was just a shock.”

He worked building himself up into his weekly routine.

“You train every day on the field and then, depending on the time of year, you could be in the weight room two to five times a week. Having that as my schedule every week was something new to me. Going to college is already a big transition for a lot of kids and it made it that much more to deal with.”

Although he was named international student athlete of the year in both his junior and senior year at NKU, his goals for the future changed.

“I was good, but I was not at the level to do it for a living,” Mr Evans said. “My bachelor's degree was in exercise science and kinesiology. I thought I might go on to do physiotherapy.”

He did an internship at the strength and conditioning facility at NKU and “really enjoyed it”.

But back in Bermuda in 2019, he was faced with the reality that, although there were plenty of personal trainers on the island when it came to professional strength trainers, he was on his own.

Mr Evans did his master’s degree in exercise science at the University of Florida. He then did an internship at the university with Matt DeLancey and Tracy Zimmer, who are both known for training Olympic athletes. During that period he worked, briefly, with gold medal-winning swimmer Ryan Lochte.

Midfielder Liam Evans, front, playing for Northern Kentucky University (Photograph supplied)

“He seemed nice,” said Mr Evans, who started each day at the University of Florida gym at 6.30am. There, he was one of six interns who would help clients with routines set out by the staff coaches.

He discovered that good coaching does not have to be complicated.

“You can go on Instagram and find a lot of fancy workout routines,” he said. “But the coaches I was working with seemed to prefer simplicity.”

A few weeks ago the 26-year-old joined the staff of PhysioActive Ltd helping people who want to build their strength up after an injury.

Particularly passionate about Bermuda’s young athletes, he also works privately with Warwick Academy’s swimming programme and FC Bascome Bermuda. Sometimes his work starts with teaching children how to move competently.

“Kids are not out climbing trees, and running around as much as when I was a child,” he said. “They are not getting out as much. As a result a lot of kids seem more awkward.”

He believes local sport, generally, would benefit from strength-training opportunities.

“There are some pieces that exist, but across the board it is something we lack and we could improve upon,” he said.

One of the issues for Bermuda’s national team is finding the space to do strength training together.

“There is not a national training centre with a big room with weights so that the whole team could train at once,” he said. “Hopefully, in the future that could change.”

Mr Evans still plays with the national team and with Robin Hood Football Club in his spare time.

“I have not retired from football,” he said. “But my workout routine has switched a little. In college, it was more performance-focused. It still is for me, but I have a busy schedule to deal with so I have to find ways to incorporate my training in.”

Sometimes he has only 45 minutes to work out.

“I still do Olympic lifts, compound movements, dead lifts, and squats,” he said. “Those are the best bang for your buck.”

Looking back, he has no regrets that he did not become a professional footballer.

“I think all young players have that [dream], at some point,” he said. “But I love what I do.”

For more information: www.physioactive.bm; 261-2612

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Published March 16, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated March 17, 2022 at 8:12 am)

Footballer switches gears

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