Showing posts with label Cyprus Cup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cyprus Cup. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2015

Interview with Finland midfielder Annika Kukkonen

The latest interview on ETS is with Finland women’s national team midfielder Annika Kukkonen, who has just returned from international duty at the Cyprus Cup. Many thanks to Annika for her candid answers, and all the best for the upcoming season in Sweden with her new club Sunnanå.

You've made over 50 appearances for Finland at such a young age - was it always your ambition to play for the national team?
61 is the number right now and its 61 more than I thought it would be at the beginning of my career. I'm really proud of that number, along with the decision I made at an early age that I wanted to come a professional player.

There has been a lot of attention on the Women's World Cup this year being played on artificial pitches – do you think it will affect the quality of the matches?
That's really hard question. I love natural grass when it's in a good shape, but I really like playing on artificial grass too and we do it lot in Sweden and Finland, so I'm kind of used to it. I don't think it affects the quality of the game in terms of passing and moving with the ball, but it can make a difference in a physical way, there are fewer sliding tackles made on artificial pitches, with good reason. It's a pain when the skin cuts on those pitches, that's the main reason why I prefer natural grass.

What was it like to play in the Euro 2013 tournament? The average attendances were the biggest ever, did it make you hungrier to play in more competitions?

It was a great experience, even though we were really disappointed with game performances. We had the honour to play against Sweden in their home stadium in front of all their fans. The fans always give the extra feeling for the games and of course it makes us hungry to play in more big games.

What advice would you give to youngsters about becoming a professional? Is there anything that you'd do differently?

Have fun! It's really important to enjoy playing football! Listen the advice you will get but always make your own decisions. You are the one who's responsible for your choices and also later on your career. I'm happy with the choices I've made.

Sepp Blatter once suggested that female players should wear tighter shorts to increase the popularity of women's football, while in a Cyprus Cup match, some comments were made at Australian players. Have you ever experienced such prejudice?
I played with boys when I was younger so there was a lot of talk about girls playing football - not in my team but more from the opponents, so I am used to the sexist trash talk, so now when I hear comments like that I'm pretty good at ignoring them.

Annika (right) taking on France in the recent Cyprus Cup

Tinja-Riikka (Korpela, Finland and Bayern Munich goalkeeper) gave an interview recently where she talked about the challenges of being openly gay in football, praising the support of her teammates after coming out. Do you feel that women's football is more accepting than the men's game?
Definitely! There are many more openly gay people in women's football than in the men's game. The general environment is that you are good as you are and no-one has to fit in with the same stereotypes.

Are there any leagues that you'd love to play in, other than Finland and Sweden?
Right now I'm happy and satisfied in Sweden - I haven't got any thoughts about play in any other leagues. At Sunnanå SK, I want to get my ankle injury sorted, then I will start to think about the next goals.

Did you join in the Gangnam Style dance-off at the Cyprus Cup players evening?
Haha that was awesome! I would like to be as good a dancer as that player was!!


Thanks again Annika. More interviews are in the works, keep watching this space. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a line.