DAVE BELL has been in Iceland for almost two months now and while he is trying to adapt to the different lifestyle, the country’s biggest snowstorm in over a decade has put a halt to his experience.
Attending language classes, travelling on ferries to training and having to be rescued from a snowstorm are just some of the challenges Bell has faced but he is optimistic he is in the right place to learn more about the beautiful game.
Bell moved to Iceland in January to assist Hermann Hreidarsson at IBV Vestmannaeyjar who play in the Icelandic Premier League. It has been a challenging time to date.
“It’s taking a little time for me to settle in possibly because on the island they are experiencing their worst weather for over 10 years,” said Bell.
“I knew that I would be experiencing some cold and snow but certainly not as much as I’ve seen over these past few months.
Besides going to the club some days, it has been difficult to get around because of the snow and ice.
“One day myself and two players had to be rescued from the club because the snowstorm was so big we couldn’t get out with our cars and there is no way in this world you could walk as the storm was that strong. That was some experience!
“The weather takes some settling in but as each day and week goes by I’m getting used to it. Everyone tells me that when the weather settles I will see how beautiful and nice the island is.
“Herrman keeps telling me once I settle in I won’t want to leave and he should know as he was born here. As for coaching, all of it has been in our indoor astro arena as we are one of the clubs who still have the main grass pitch because the weather will not be ready for another month.
“Our arena is the size of just over half a full-size pitch so we get some good sessions in that at the moment but once the weather improves we have three very good grass training pitches. If there is one thing Ireland can learn from Iceland is to get more big indoor arenas which would certainly help the development of young players. Lots of clubs have them here and they are very community-based.
“We seem to have the longest pre-season in the world. Our first league game is on Easter Monday, still a few weeks away. We go on a pre-season trip to Spain this week which is the latest pre-season trip I have ever been on.
“We have a nice mixture of players in our team ranging from the early 30s to 19. Most of the lads are Icelandic but we have a Spanish player named Sito, who played alongside former Cork City player Steven Beattie in America, and Portuguese player Themo.
“They have been a great help to me understanding the Icelandic language as they were both in last season’s promotion team. I go to Icelandic classes twice a week with them and if they weren’t in the class I don’t think I’d ever learn the language as it’s so hard.”
Former Irish international Marc Wilson joins next week.
“I am sure his experience in the game will help the players very much and hopefully get us into that top six.
“What I like about the squad is that they are a tough bunch of lads. They have to be as training or play in the conditions they do, you need to be tough.”
Living on an island just outside Iceland, Bell is looking forward to seeing more of the country.
“I don’t live in Iceland but on the Island of Heimaey. It is the largest island and only populated island of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. The Island is about five miles away from the south coast of Iceland. It is the only populated island in the Vestmannaeyjar Islands with a population of around 4,500 people.
“It is very picturesque with stunning views wherever you drive on the island. There was a volcano on the island in 1973 the Eldfell volcano as it is known erupted and destroyed many buildings on the island the islanders were forced to flee to the mainland but most of them returned and rebuilt the Island which is such a credit to them all.
“The club has provided me with my apartment which is close to the club and its training facilities. To get to the island you have to catch the ferry and depending on the weather the journey can take from 40 minutes to three hours so there are times you need your sea legs.
“I try to be at the club most days. Being new here is a learning process for me. Each day I try to learn as much about the club as I can as well as having football teams there are also has men’s and women’s handball teams.
“I recently started watching their games learning about the sport and must admit that at first, I wasn’t too sure, but now I do like watching the games and the great atmosphere they have at each of the games. As I’ve said at the moment it’s not the weather to be out and about at the moment but I’m sure these coming months it will improve and I’ll see a lot more of what the Island has to offer.
“I do miss Ireland so very much it was my home for 14 years. I was so happy living there.
Sometimes you have to make a brave decision and come out of your comfort zone and I’ve done that but I do hope that I can return to Ireland and Cork who I love very much.
“I have made so many friends all over Ireland who have always been so lovely and helpful towards me. I do miss them. I hope I can get a few days off soon so I can get back and see some of them.”