Luda’s Letters #2

“This is the HJK team I love” was the main thing our coach said to us after our game this Saturday. If you weren’t at the game you might be confused when you hear this because we did lose 2-0 to Åland but we put up a great fight. We nearly walked away with a point from the reigning Naisten Liiga champions. However, there were mixed emotions after the game; excitement because it really felt like a team effort in the game but also disappointment because we almost found the back of the net in numerous attacks. The energy and attitude of HJK was amazing this Saturday and honestly, this whole week. We have taken huge steps from our game against TPS just a week ago. It was a great feeling having our first home game here in Helsinki. We had great fans and absolutely adorable HJK little girls who even came and got autographs after the game!

After Tuesday’s practice in Tali, I knew our team was getting back on track. We had a challenging practice but it brought us together and taught us how to fight as a team. Practice throughout the whole week continued to be great. Player’s attitudes were changing for the best and I was looking forward to our game because I knew we were ready mentally and physically. After having team meetings nearly every day before trainings, I think we were finally starting to understand we needed to work hard and most importantly, work together! Also, about halfway through the week, I finally learned the Finnish word for meeting: “palaveri.”

It does amaze me how much attitudes and mentalities affect performance. It was obvious to me before kickoff that we were going to play well. Players seemed excited but relaxed. We had new uniforms waiting for us in the locker room when we arrived, which is always exciting! We also brought back an old tradition from last season to our game day preparations. We played a juggling game similar to HORSE in basketball but it includes a great punishment of crawling on your hands and knees once you lose while everyone claps. It may sound pretty humiliating but I can promise you, it is a great way to loosen up and have some fun before the real game begins. I think it was just what we needed and you can be sure we will play this before games throughout the rest of our season. We have a week off from League games coming up but we will still be training hard and getting ready for the next game! I am looking forward to the rest of this season and earning our first points in the League.