Showing posts with label Women's football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women's football. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Interview with Finland U19 international Kaisa Collin

Time for another interview, this time my friend Henry Hakamäki has joined in again by speaking to HJK's Kaisa Collin, who also plays for Finland's U19 girls side. Thanks again to both.

What first got you interested in football? What made you decide to become a professional?
I got interested in football already in kindergarten. I liked to score goals and humiliate opponents with fancy skills... The only thing that has ever really interested me is football. School or work does not make me happy, football makes me happy and I want to be happy.

Kaisa (#10) in international action - photo via Tapio Tuomela

Who is the player that you've always wanted to be like?  Who was the player you loved watching the most?  And who is the best player you've ever played with or against?
I've always wanted to be like Zlatan. Of course I love to watch Zlatan, but also Ronaldinho is one of my favourites to watch. The best player who I have ever played with is Minna Meriluoto. Minna is a great leader, an unbelievable goalkeeper and also a good person who really cares about her team.

How does playing in Finland specifically affect how you play the sport? What would you like to be different?
In Finland, our season is from April to October because of the weather. Women's football is not very appreciated so we don't have a lot of audience in our games. I would change the women’s season from summer to winter to get more respect for women's football and to get more fans to come! It would also be nice if women in Finland could get more money for playing football.

What's the best advice you have for your career, and who gave it?
Maybe when my good friend, and also a very good footballer, Olga Ahtinen, said to me "Don't ever change your personality, because that is your strength in football".

What part of your personality would be your biggest strength for football?
I’d probably say my self-confidence.

What does it feel like to represent Finland for football? How important is it for you to represent the country?
It's great to represent Finland in football, I am really proud to be part of the youth national team. The first time I played for the youth national team, it was exciting and also great because I had so many good players around me. Playing for the national team is very important for me. This spring, we have qualifiers for the U19 European Championships in Holland, and that has been one of my biggest goals for two years. Some day I also want to play for the senior women's national team.

How is playing for Finland different than playing for your club?
In the club, we work everyday together, but in the national team we do not have a lot of days together. National team is maybe more professional than club.

What's your goal for Euros coming up, personally, and what is the goal for the team?
Well, the team goal is of course to win qualifiers and then have success in the finals. My personal goal is to help the team on the field and I want to be one of the best goalscorers at the Euros.

Is there any part of your game that you want to improve during the Euros?
During the winter, I have worked a lot on my physicality, and I hope that in the Euros I am physically at the international level.


Thanks again to Henry and to Kaisa, as always it's very much appreciated.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tulos: Pukki, season tickets and Britpop

Another slow fortnight or so since the last Tulos. Here's a quick summary for those of you who have been away...

A superb offer for fans of teams in the western division of the Kakkonen in 2015. Season ticket holders at either of the three clubs in the post are also able to attend the home games of the others, so over forty matches for the price of one season ticket, as little as 50 Euros in some cases.

Teemu Pukki knows how to time things - 48 hours before the announcement of the next Finland squad (for the Northern Ireland game), he scores for Brøndby in their 2-0 win over OB.

With more speculation in England about the introduction of academy teams into professional leagues, I wrote for Put Niels In Goal about how the teams fare in Finland, featuring the Suomen Cup ties between teams from the same club... Featuring the joint team huddle of HIFK/3 and HIFK/4 (below).

Finland's FIFA ranking continues to drop, now just five places above their previous worst of September 2012.

The latest ETS interview was with Finland ladies midfielder Annika Kukkonen, who gave some excellent answers relating to gay players, sexism in the sport, and Gangnam Style...

The latest draw for the Suomen Cup was made on Monday by Jari Litmanen - he should be made to make every draw, he pulled out some absolute stunners. TPS v Inter and JanPa/Atletico Malmi v FC Lahti are particular highlights. One big shock result of round four was KPV defeating top division side Jaro 3-0.

Fifth round draw - looking forward to it already

Last update is a bit of an ego boost - I'm very honoured to have been included in a list of the top football blogs to follow in 2015, by Left-Wing Soccer. There are some wonderful writers on there, and they're all well worth a few minutes of your time.

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.