A Beggar For Good Soccer: The First Steps

What happens when a woman quits her job to bum around Europe and take in the football?

Editor’s note: Welcome to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer miniseries following Jessica Malone’s journeys. Jessica will be reporting from various parts of Europe— including France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup— before returning stateside.

I quit my job as a geologist of 9.5 years in April. I didn’t have another job lined up, but I was no longer comfortable working for that company. I had been working on the road for the past six months.

My life had been rootless for almost three years— living out of hotels or job trailers, crashing on friends’ couches when I was back in Denver. All of my belongings were being stored in basements and garages. When I quit, I would either need to get a new job and find a place to live, or figure something else out.

I already had a trip to France planned for the beginning go the Women’s World Cup. I decided to push up my departure date and head to Europe for the end of the club seasons in Spain and Italy. I wanted to see Lionel Messi play before he retired, and if I didn’t do it now, when would I?

I have loved this sport since the 1998 World Cup. I stopped playing after high school, but had been fully immersed in the international conversation about the game for 20 years. I had started traveling domestically to watch matches in 2013. In 2017, I went to my first Premier League and Bundesliga matches. I travelled around Russia on my own for the 2018 World Cup. Living out of a suitcase for two months to see some of the world’s biggest players, clubs, and stadiums was not a daunting task.

I had worked a lot of overtime in the last 6 months, earmarking some earnings for soccer trips. This may not be financially responsible, but it was achievable – and would make a big dent in my bucket list. Additionally, I knew this would give me time and space to heal from the ordeal that caused me to leave my job.

I threw the plans together quickly, with matches making up the backbone of the itinerary. During my last two weeks at the office, word started to spread that I had quit my job to watch soccer.

This was not accurate— I had quit my job because I no longer wanted to work there, and watching soccer was what I had chosen to do until I figured out the next step of my life.

At the end of April, I got on a plane to Spain and started my soccer sabbatical.


Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.