The people that have known me a little longer will know that my obsession with Sweden did not end when I came back from the trip that changed my life. In the last two years, not a day has gone by in which I haven’t done something at least slightly related to the country. From intensely following the Swedish women’s soccer competition (and supporting whoever was in first place at that particular moment) to trying to learn a few new Swedish words every single day. Aside from making it to the Dutch national team, playing in Sweden is one of my biggest dreams. And it looks like that dream might just become a reality this summer.
In March of last year I had planned another trip to Stockholm. Because I did not want to stop playing soccer for a week, I had contacted a local club asking if I could train with them for a week. They responded positively, and with an FC Eindhoven-jersey to give to them as a thank you, I traveled to the Swedish capital.
Training with a strange team is terrifying. When I first left the comfort of my fifth division-team in December of 2013 to train with FC Eindhoven, my knees were trembling every single time I was driving to the club. ‘What if I give as much bad passes as I did last time? What if they find out I can’t even shoot with my left leg? And what if I’m standing behind so-and-so again in a drill, I passed the ball to her terribly last week as well!’ Before training I’d sit on the toilet, murmuring some encouraging words, and trying to convince myself that running out the door and going home, however tempting, might not be the solution to my problems. I came very close to being known as ‘that girl that ran out on us before practice and never dared to come back’. But if I thought this experience would prepare me for what I’d go through in Sweden, I was completely wrong.
By March, Scandinavia was still pretty cold, so I hid deep within my scarf on that Tuesday night. After a twenty minute ride I got out of the subway, and my legs were shaking with nerves. With my carefully printed Google Maps-instructions in my hand I set out to find Hässelby’s training ground. I had one and a half hour to complete the 800-meter journey, but given my track record of getting lost always and everywhere, I thought to better be safe than sorry. And of course, my trembling legs sure didn’t make walking any easier.
But in the end, all my worries had been for nothing. I was well on time, the training was amazing and the girls really nice. Whenever the coach’s Swedish explanation of a drill was a little too fast, someone stepped in to translate it for me, and after playing soccer for an hour and a half I was invited to come and join them for their Thursday practice as well. That night, I wrote in my diary: ‘There’s so much here for me to learn. I’ll be back. No matter what.’
Sweden, here I come!
On June 1st of this year, right at the start of our summer break at FC Eindhoven, I’m leaving for Sweden for nine weeks, to live, work, and play soccer there, at the 4th national tier, with Hässelby. And to be honest, I can barely believe it. As I wrote in my last blog, I have an incredibly long road ahead of me to make it to the top. But to get to play in Sweden for two full months, only to come back and join the preseason at FC Eindhoven, that sort of feels like I’ve already made my dreamtransfer to a foreign competition. Now all that’s left to do is hope that I can control my shaking legs when I get there.
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂