Singapore. A country home to the 6th highest percentage of foreigners, and for the first part of his life, Dale Furber. The 6”4 280 lbs Offensive Lineman honed his skills on the gridiron in the Southeast Asian country, a country that never has and probably never will be considered a factory for football players, but for the recently transferred SFU product, it was where he made a start in the game.
“I was six years old when I started playing some flag and got into full contact the next year (in Singapore). There’s a Singapore Football League there. I was in a Singapore-American school growing up. I played out there with a bunch of Texans and Californians.”
Furber resided there for the first 13 years of his life, then made the move to Canada where he played high school football at Sentinel High School in Vancouver. It was there that he won the championship his senior year, a year that helped attract interest from universities from all over. He got offers from schools in the South, but decided on a junior college instead, Riverside City College in California.
Some might wonder why Furber would then decide to go from playing in the States to donning the jersey for a university that was relatively new and hadn’t had a lot of success. Family beckoned.
“I was actually going to go up to Arkansas State, a smaller school, my Mom and my brother went back to Vancouver so I was like okay, I’ll go to SFU to be closer to them.”
Family to Dale, as it is to most football players, is important to him and is a building block to the success he’s had on the field. But it hasn’t always been easy for those on board. Simply getting to games has been a challenge for the Furbers, who have situated themselves all over the globe.
“We grew up in Singapore, my Mom’s Filipino and my Dad’s Canadian. My Dad passed away when I was 13 years old and so when I grew up and went to college she went back and forth from the Philippines and my brother went to Singapore because he got a job there.”
His brother Kelly, being thirteen years his senior, is someone he’s always looked up to, someone who went to as many of his games as he could and was a big support to Dale.
Let’s back up a few years, to when Furber was 13 years-old and trying to decide which direction to take in the sporting world. None of the previously mentioned success would have been possible had he had it his way in the first place. In his own mind, Dale would have at the time rather been performing ollies and riding rails, but it was his Dad who influenced him in a different, more productive direction.
“When I was 13 years old I was skateboarding and I wanted to go to a skateboard camp with all my friends. My Dad was like “you know there’s no 300 pound skateboarders Dale, you want to play football and go to football camp” and I said okay let’s do that. From there its kind of rolled.”
The direction from others didn’t end there. While playing football in the States and starting out on defense, someone had other ideas. He was asked to make a change that would be an adjustment to his game.
“The Offensive Line coach asked me “Hey, do you want to make a play every down? Then come play offense!”
But there’s one decision that was left entirely up to Furber. Many years later, while he would have been just as content to finish out his university career with the Simon Fraser Clan, Furber was faced with the prospect of making another move. With the team choosing to leave CIS and go to the NCAA, many players became free agents, all looking for another chance to play ball. He and fellow teammate Owen Geier were intrigued by the chance to come to the U of S. For Furber, it was is his final year of eligibility and it was the Huskies program coupled with geography and family that attracted him to the prairies.
“I have utmost respect for the U of S program and their fans, but my dad is from Tisdale, Sask. So I decided to come here and get closer with my dad’s side of the family so they could get to know me better.”
Along with transferring to the U of S comes new coaches and new adjustments. Coach Arnold and Coach Serke are two mentors that Furber says are “really good guys” and describes them both as being “good technicians”. While he’s more than willing to just do whatever he can, changing from one playbook to another has its challenges.
“The schemes are a little different for certain things and players like to run it differently, different line calls, different lingo. But football is football, it’s the same thing, zone this way, zone that way, it doesn’t vary that much.”
Being a fifth-year guy who is used to significant playing time, making the transition from starter to spot duty isn’t an easy one. But he’s still willing to wait his turn and if that means just being a good teammate, he’s all for it.
“I understand that I didn’t come here expecting to be ‘the man’, I just came here to work. Every week I’ll put my hard hat on. If I don’t get to play, I’ll be the best teammate I can be on the sidelines, I’ll be the guy that cheers the loudest. You gotta be patient, anything can happen in football and just be ready at all times.”
“I like to keep it humble and always make it more for others. Sacrifice yourself for the cause of everybody else.”
Words that we should all live by, both on and off the field.