Photo by Ivan Derakhshani

From Russia with love: World Cup trip player blogs

By Jessica Pincente

The Ryerson Rams men's soccer team has made the long journey to Moscow to take part in the festivities surrounding the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Follow along with the trip and read daily first-hand accounts from the Rams as they travel and explore Russia!

DAY 1: June 14, 2018

"The first day of traveling was slow. I slept throughout the entire trip thinking about the World Cup. It still doesn’t feel real, and it won’t feel real until I’m in that stadium watching the beautiful game. Warsaw airport is full of different World Cup fans and it’s amazing to see the beautiful game slowly bringing the world together. Now, I am going to sleep again until we are in Russia." - Mirza Custovic, Rams Forward (Freshman)

"As I was boarding the airplane, I was hoping for a girl to come and stop me at the gate and tell me, “wait, I love you!” Never happened. Besides that, I was worried I was gonna fall asleep on the plane, but Arya [Hemati] ended up playing the worst movie and it basically put me to sleep... I'm gonna room with Greg [Wise]. I'm excited, I feel like Greg is gonna change the way I look at life, he's gonna show me what it means to be a real Canadian."  - Ali Ghazanfari, Goalkeeper (Senior)

DAY 2: JUNE 15, 2018

"After a short amount of sleep, we decided to go on a tour of the Kremlin and it was very intriguing. I learned a lot of interesting Russian history. One point that resonated with me was that Putin takes a helicopter to his office in order to not cause traffic because they would have to shut down the roads while he was being escorted through the roads. After the long journey we had walking around the Kremlin, a couple guys stayed in the hotel lobby to watch the Morocco vs. Iran game which came down to the final minutes. Lastly, in the evening, the team went to an organized FIFA venue where they had plenty of screens setup to broadcast the final game of the day, Portugal vs. Spain. Boy, was it a match. All in all, it was a great second day and I can’t wait for us to watch our first game live tomorrow afternoon." - Misel Klisara, Mid-Fielder (5Senior)

DAY 3: JUNE 16, 2018

"Day 3 was the best day of life. Woke up late, had a good breakfast and headed towards the game (Argentina vs Iceland). We got to the stadium where fans were screaming and cheering for their nations. Unbelievable atmosphere with a good positive vibe. Got the privilege and honour to watch one of the greatest players of all time; Leo Messi. It was a good game where both nations showed heart and desire for the victory but shared the points equally. Well at least now I can finally say I’VE been to the World Cup." - Akibul Hoque, Mid-Fielder (Sophomore)

DAY 4: JUNE 17, 2018

"Today was a great day.  We played our first international match today against Locomotiv FC [...] I scored a goal to open up the game, and it felt nice considering it was off a set piece we had practiced.  Anyways, Serbia won today, [Filip Prostran] now thinks they've won the World Cup. A late night food run with the guys had us howling with the many jokes made. Good to know we will remember these moments in the future." - Venizelos Koutsoulianos, Mid-Fielder (Junior)

DAY 5: JUNE 18, 2018

"Today was very interesting in the sense that, if felt like the bond between the coaches and players has never been better. Everyone is getting along and the trip is filled with laughter and joy. Today I also realized how much this trip is starting to bring us all together, really making us feel like a family [...] Another thing that was learned today was that coach Mark carries a very weird curse - any team that he chooses to support by wearing a jersey for ends up performing badly at the World Cup. If I was a betting man, I would definitely bet on the team he is supporting against. Anyways thats my blog for the day, I hope you've enjoyed. Once again, truly blessed for this experience." - Kussai Salman, Mid-Fielder (Sophomore)

DAY 6: JUNE 19, 2018

"We went downtown and explored the city, this time we further than the Red Square. We tried some new foods and couldn’t stop ourselves from eating the delicious two dollar ice cream cones they sell at each corner. We watched the Portugal vs Morocco game and after getting back to the hotel we watched the Spain vs Iran game. Both matches were very tight. It’s clear that the pressure is building and there’s no telling which teams are going through!" - Nathaniel Tambakis, Defenceman (Senior)

Day 7: June 20, 2018 

"This day started off with the entire team heading to the gym where we did some fitness and core training. I really enjoyed it because iv been feeling like I haven't had enough physical activity since being in Moscow. We then had a free day where we could leave to hotel and explore the city on our own. Me and some of the team headed to Gorky Park (I think that's how you spell it). We played basketball and ate ice cream which was a lot of fun. We then came back to the hotel and watched the Spain and Iran game which was very entertaining. At night the team gathered in one of our hotel rooms and played charades which was honestly the highlight of the day. Our team has officially become a family. Or In this case a Ramily." - Kussai Salman, Mid-Fielder (Sophomore)

DAY 8: JUNE 21, 2018

"USSR tour day! Nice history behind the tour, and our tour guide sounded like borat so thats always good!  Real long day but we got some [good] icecream on the way…. We walked by a flea market and I asked the merchant how much for a bag - he told me 350 rubals. I knew we would come back, so I waited. On the way back, I guess he forgot who I was when I asked him again - he said 500 rubals [...] Anyways, I got him down to 300 and that was that… shopping for my sisters gift is now done!"  - Venizelos Koutsoulianos, Mid-Fielder (Junior)