Trafford Finding Feet in Finland
Real Maryland CB Makes Move to Europe
Thursday, September 2, 2010
By NICHOLAS MURRAY
His season with USL-2’s Real Maryland over, Monarchs center back Mason Trafford knew he wanted his next move to be to take a crack at breaking in with a European team.
With IFK Mariehamn in the Finnish Premier Division, the 24-year-old Canadian is getting that opportunity.
With help from his agent, Trafford’s highlight video gave Mariehamn’s manager Pekka Lyyski a chance to see the player, and from there he was brought in for a trial. On Sunday he signed with the club.
“I’m really enjoying the new club right now,” Trafford said via e-mail. “The club is a very tight-knit group - the management, the coaching staff, and the players all have a good relationship and that has made the transition much easier for me. Everything has been very professional so far, and I think that has allowed me to settle in and feel comfortable right from the start. I feel happy here, Mariehamn is a small city but very nice, and everyone has been good to me so far.”
Trafford has arrived in the middle of a relegation fight for Mariehamn, which currently sits in 13th place of the 14-team league, two points behind Oulu and FC Haka with six games remaining. In his debut on Monday, the side lost 3-1 to league-leading HJK Helsinki, but with games against Haka and bottom club Lahti part of the remaining schedule, the opportunity is there for the side to stay up.
After the season he just went through with Real Maryland, it would appear as though Trafford has gone from one tough situation to another, but Trafford himself believes he and a number of his Monarchs teammates learnt a lot from this season.
“Although we didn’t have success as a team,” Trafford said, “I think everyone involved came away having learned something, and hopefully myself and some other players can find success after a disappointing season.”
Trafford, who was with the Vancouver Whitecaps for the 2009 USL-1 season, certainly thinks his experience with the Monarchs helped pave the way for his new opportunity.
“I think I have become a better player as a result of my time in USL-2,” Trafford said. “RMFC allowed me to develop parts of my game and parts of myself that I couldn’t develop while I was at the Whitecaps. I was able to find a regular starting place at my preferred position, and also take on more of a leadership role. I have to tip my hat to Coach Anthony Hudson for bringing me in and having confidence in me. He also provided me with a different perspective on how to play this game, which I think helped me with my confidence and has prepared me during my time so far in Finland.
“It’s tough to find a place where you feel comfortable and a place that is suited to your game. I came away from USL-2 feeling like I had added an element that wasn’t there in Vancouver. And it led me here, to IFK, which is what I wanted to get out of the USL season, so in that respect I think my time in USL-2 has to be seen as a success.”