With this week's column coming from Japan, it felt apt to talk about foreign imports and their value to the League of Ireland.
While there are exceptions that prove the rule, we tend to produce hard-working players in Ireland, who technically may not be at the highest level.
For instance, our international team is not renowned in Europe for its technical ability. For this reason I see the introduction of foreign players, and their style of play, as something very valuable to our league. Their different style of play often complements the hard working, high intensity homegrown players.
Joey N'Do, Mark Rutherford, Romauld Boco... all foreign imports who added something to their respective teams.
Bastien Héry take a bow! The @waterfordFCie midfielder's goal in the 2-0 win over @stpatsfc has to be seen to be believed #RTEsoccerrepublic pic.twitter.com/a5M1UZTtZE
February 27, 2018
It is early days, but Waterford's Bastien Héry could definitely be in this bracket. The season is only three games old, but already the Frenchman has provided us with a few moments for the highlights reel.
I played with Bastien at Sheffield Wednesday and he is a perfect example of someone who offers something a little different, and whose play can complement more workmanlike players around him.
As the crowds in the RSC will testify, he is great to watch. He takes risks with penetrating passes and, as he showed against St Pat's on Monday, is capable of moments of individual brilliance.
Some may remember him from a League Cup tie at Anfield a few years back, playing for Carlisle, when his hairstyle and assist during a 1-1 draw both attracted national attention
Héry in action against Liverpool's Adam Lallana
Fans will be keen to see what Dundalk's Karolis Chvedukas brings to the league and whether we can look to attract more players in this mould in the coming seasons.
It is a testament to Dundalk's standing in Europe that Stephen Kenny can bring in a current Lithuania international and it augers well for the future of the league.
The ability of the likes of Héry and Chvedukas to pass the ball and hold possession will be vital when it comes to European football. The further our teams go in European competitions, the more important it is that we have the capability to keep the ball and control the tempo of games.
No team is capable of sustaining a high-intensity press for 90 minutes, which is why it is so important that Irish teams in Europe have players who can therefore keep the ball and help dictate the pace of games.
We have seen in recent years how the game changes in the group stages of the Europa League and teams need players in their side who can create chances, frustrate opponents and unlock defences.
These type of players are also crucial in terms of creating chances and winning games and can assist Irish clubs in progressing, more often, to group stages of European competitions.
Patrick McEleney is a creative homegrown talent
Of course, none of this praise is meant to suggest we do not produce creative players in this country. One just has to look at the likes of Patrick McEleney, Robbie Benson, Graham Burke, Brandon Miele, Kieran Sadlier and Aaron McEneff.
However, players on the continent who are brought up playing the game in a different style could have a huge impact on the league and also aid the progression of players, such as those just mentioned.
The likes of Héry and Chvedukas could be mentors to the next generation of Irish players. Whether team-mates or opponents, it is important that our younger players get exposed to a number of different styles while learning the game.
Training on a daily basis with such personnel, as well as playing in European games, gives players a much greater education in the game than playing against the same styles of football every week.
It is important they face different challenges early in their career, especially if they have ambitions of playing in England.
Likewise, some of these imported talents have a style of play that is attractive to the eye, which can make television games more appealing to watch and can draw in the crowds.
No one in the RSC on Monday will have felt short-changed - that is for sure.