Growing up in Spokane, Wash., Troy Ready always wanted to be a pro athlete. "From the age of five or six, I wanted to play professional soccer. Actually at the time, I was making a decision if I was going to play professional soccer or the NFL. I must have been a confident five year-old believing that I was going to make one of the two."
Little did he know, his soccer ambitions would take him to Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan, one of the poorest countries in Asia, where he'd play for FC Vakhsh and work for the Millennium Development Partners. Following an up-and-down career at the University of Washington, Ready played in the USL-1 and PDL before moving with his family to Qurghonteppa, to which he had traveled with the Ambassadors in Sport team for an international tournament in 2005.
He offered to play for free -- his visa prevented him from being paid by FC Vakhsh -- and quickly made friends. "I still didn't know exactly how it would evolve," he said, "but within a few weeks of being on the team I had developed more friendships than the first eight or nine months. It's the beauty of being on a team."