At KSK Heist, everything is different: my first weeks as ‘professional’ footballer

‘Dad, you know what I was thinking? Just to warn you, it’s a little bit melodramatic…’ My dad doesn’t say anything, but keeps staring at the dark highway in front of him with a straight face, his hands loosely placed on top of the car’s steering wheel. The fact that the corners of his mouth curl upwards, just for a second, give away that he probably already knows what kind of comment I’m about to make. He knows me all too well.

‘So today, at my internship, I spent the entire day working on football-related projects… And in the evening I got to train with a team in the Belgian Super League!’ For dramatic effect, I pause. ‘All the dreams I had for my life a year ago have come true…’ My dad smiles, as if he’s trying to confirm that what I just said was indeed exactly what he was expecting me to say. Then, he says: ‘Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.’ Another ten seconds follow where car tires on a bumpy Belgian road is the only sound to be heard. ‘But let’s not forget you worked incredibly hard to get to that point.’ ‘Hmm, yeah…’ I mumble in reply, unsure of how I should respond to a remark like that. ‘But still…’

‘Professional’ player

Melodramatic, that’s something my comment definitely was. But considering the fact that I’ve spent the past four weeks diving headfirst into one surreal experience after the other, I felt like I was allowed to do that. Because no, according to the dictionary definition of the word, I’m not a ‘professional’ football player just yet. But if you look at my day-to-day schedule it’s bloody well starting to look like I am. Because at Heist, everything is different.


Because going from a pregame meeting that consisted of ‘Here are the eleven girls that start today, good luck’ to a tactical PowerPoint presentation of 70 slides, adjusted to the expected game plan of the opponents of that day, and with individual tasks for every player on the pitch: that takes some getting used to. But in the good sense of the word. Every little detail of playing at KSK Heist feels, tastes and smells different from anything I’ve encountered at my previous clubs.

Emma Coolen - KSK HeistWhat a bizarre experience it was, when during our four day preseason trip to Germany last week, every single activity on the planning that was sent to everyone beforehand was followed, and even started at the exact right time. Given the fact that I’m so chaotic even finding two matching socks to wear in the morning is a challenge, this took me some effort, of course. But when that effort you put in to make sure you’re on time is rewarded with being able to train twice a day at a level you couldn’t have even dreamed of five years ago makes it all more than worth it.


A split second I feared that my worst nightmare had come true and my season was over before it had even started, when I felt a sharp pain in my weaker hamstring in training two weeks ago, but even that turned out to be just a minor thing. Add that to the fact that I’ve even managed to avoid making the same mistakes I made in my first week at Moldavo (getting really drunk on your first night out with the team in a desperate attempt to impress them and end up confessing your undying love for a teammate you first met just five days prior), I’m pretty satisfied with how my first few weeks as a ‘pro’ player have turned out.

Undoubtedly, it’s going to be a tough and difficult season, in which I will do every single thing within my power to try and play as many minutes in Belgium’s highest division as possible. If the first month is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, I absolutely can’t wait to experience all the adventures that lie ahead of me. But before the league kicks off, there’s a score waiting to be settled… In a scheduled preseason friendly against a team that just a few months ago considered me to be not good enough for their second team… 😉

Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂

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