Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet"... today we got wet!

This weekend we had an away game against JyPK, the current series leader.  The game was about 3 hours away and we got there with plenty of time to prepare. The weather was pretty crazy.  When the game started it was just cloudy skies but it only took about 20 minutes before it was raining buckets! Everyone was soaking wet and the field turned pretty messy. Despite the conditions we played a good game although the result did not show it.

We were prepared to play and up for the challenge. We started off the game well. We limited their chances on goal and were holding the majority of the possession.  While the other team looked to play direct the whole game, we stuck to what we practice and looked to keep the ball.  Our best chance of the first half came when Linda (midfielder) slid to intercept the ball and Tess (forward, Equatorial Guinea) was in on a breakaway. The keeper came up with a save and we were unable to put the rebound away.  The first half ended 0-0 and we went into the locker room.
The second half was pretty similar until about the 80th minute.  JyPk broke through and scored off a shot just inside the penalty box. Within a few minutes later they scored again and it was 2-0 with only 5 minutes left in the game. We didn't give up and were able to put 1 away with a few minutes remaining.  Jackie (my roommate, and also American) took a corner kick. When the keeper went up to catch it, it slipped through hands and found the back of the net! We fought for the last few minutes but were unable to find the tying goal.

Today the refs were not on our side again.  I swear the foul count was probably 20-2. It is starting to get a bit ridiculous! We are starting to believe that they are calling everything against us and nothing for us because of the number of foreigners!! Today they called at least three offside's that clearly should not have been called! Tess, one of our forwards who is from Nigeria never gets anything called for her!! And trust me she is a tough girl. I usually don't like to get caught up in the referees but I mean come on lets be serious!

For the game today I was named the captain. Our captain is out for the next two months with an ankle injury. The coin toss is a bit different here then home, everyone was telling me to lose the coin toss! I was so confused. When the referee flips the coin if you choose the correct side then you only get to pick the side, whereas at home you can choose to pick the side or the ball. Here in Finland after every game they name a player of the game for each team. Today I was named the POG for our team. I got a little scale to weigh luggage... pretty handy! While today the outcome wasn't in our favor that is the game of soccer! I look forward to playing them again later in the season! I believe we have the talent and mindset to outplay anyone in our series.  Our next game is on Thursday, we will work hard this week in practice and look to get back into the winning column!

Hejdå för nu!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First trip to Sweden!

It's 6:30 AM and our alarms are going off! Jackie and I slowly get out of bed, have some breakfast then get ready. Katja(mom) insists that we do not wear soccer clothes.. so instead of the usually 20 seconds it takes me to get dressed, today it took about 2 minutes to figure out what to wear! 7 AM sharp and we are loaded in the green machine. We are ready for our trip to IKEA! Katja was the driver, I was the co-pilot and then we had DJ Jackie in the back seat! We brought an amplifier to plug into our ipods so we could have some good ole American music the whole time with no Finnish/Swedish interruptions!

Sverige=Sweden, Suomi=Finland

So I have never been to the Ikea in the U.S before but it was quite the experience. After looking at the show rooms for about 3 hours we took a break for lunch. We had some Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry. It was very good! Now it was time to get our stuff from the warehouse. Whenever I saw the full 3 carriages we had I was a little worried we might be leaving some stuff behind in Sweden. But no worries the green machine allowed us to fit everything plus room for one more bag if needed! Before heading home we stopped at grocery store to check out the Swedish candy and ice cream. Fins love there ice cream and candy and well I think I'm becoming a fin too! So we loaded up on some treats and back to the car for the four hour journey home.

All day I was hoping that I would see a reindeer. I knew we would see one! I look to the left across the highway and there was a huge moose next to the road! It was awesome.. although I have seen a moose before so I was still crossing my fingers to find a reindeer. Now on our right we see not one...but two REINDEER! SO COOL! So I tell Katja the next time we see a reindeer she needs to stop so we could get a picture.. sure enough a little while later she slams on the breaks and pulls over. Jackie and I run out and got so close to them! They were basically like a penalty box away from us!! Took some pictures and then jumped back in the car. Finally the trip was complete! I would say the first trip to Sweden was a success and I am looking forward to the next adventure over!
We scared them :(

Hejdå för nu!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Update from Finland

I arrived in Kokkola, Finland a little over a month ago. Things so far have been going great! The Astroms(my 2nd family) came and picked me up at the airport.  Last year when I played in Finland I stayed and worked as an Au-pair for them. They are awesome! They have 5 kids, Max 19, Mindy 17, Ebba 13, Elis 9, Otto 6... and then well me 22! They treated me like I was part of the family and really made me feel at home! Since I arrived so early this year I was able to spend Easter with the family.  The traditions in Finland are much different from what we do back home in the US.  The kids dress up as witches or bunny's(and lately really anything) and go door to door giving a present while receiving candy! Almost like what we do for Halloween!! So this year I took the initiative to be one of the oldest Easter goers in town! Max came and dressed up too! We all had a lot of fun...and got so much candy!

Check out the size of my basket!
The team is completely different from last year: new coach, new players and a better attitude towards the game. During trainings the team speaks mostly Finnish.. I only know about 4 words in Finnish so I sometimes just guess as to what is going on. All of the girls are really nice and speak good English.  There is only about 2 or 3 girls who have yet to try out there English with us. It's amazing how everyone here can speak 2 or 3 languages so well.  Because of our location in Finland, many people speak Swedish as there mother tongue. Swedish is a lot easier to comprehend and I have been learning quite a bit, thanks to some of the best teachers! (Ebba, Elis, Otto)

We have played 4 games so far.  Three for the league series and one cup game.  Our record is 3-1.  We have started off pretty well and I think everyone is getting used to playing with each other.  We won our first cup game 5-0! The Finnish cup is a tournament where all divisions can enter and play each other throughout the season until a winner is crowned.  Our next game is not until June against a team from Helsinki. If we win that game we will be part of the quarterfinals!  We have played our first 3 league games inside because the weather is just starting to be warm enough for the fields to be playable. I feel healthy and confident in the way I have been playing and believe the team is clicking more and more each practice and game.

I moved into an apartment with another American who joined the team in mid May. Her name is Jackie and she plays defensive midfield. The place is very nice and we have been so lucky with all the help GBK has provided us with.  Ulla (team mom) is awesome! She doesn't know any English but took Jackie and I shopping for the apartment and boy did she spoil us! While I know I am going to miss staying with the Astroms a lot, I think I will enjoy an apartment as well! And I plan to have lots of sleepovers with the fam!

This post has been all over the place but there was so much to write about! I will be posting weekly so stay tuned for more!

Hejdå för nu!