I have had the chance to live many years abroad, away from my homeland Finland. How it all started, my mother certainly has the best memory of it, because when I moved I was still young, only 13 years. I lived nearly six years in Germany and now I am on my second year in France. There I have gained a lot of experiences along my way. Thus, the following memories are mainly from my mother’s perspective.
The decision to move to Germany as a family with our 13- and 14-year-old girls was not an easy one. Katriina is the younger one of the girls. Although at FC Nürnberg in Germany everything related to football was well organized on behalf of the club, I as a mom got a lot of new friends to help her during that time. It took a lot of work from us to make the equation of housing, girls’ school and our working patterns work. I do remember that we had “the girls’ own strong will” to leave was crucial.
Originally, the girls ended up in football through experimenting with and practicing many different sports. We had the spark to try different sports and together with the kids. We moved quite a lot; the play and the sport went side by side. In addition to football, the girls dabbled in ringette, ballet and fine arts school.
Katriina’s team career started in Espoo in club named “Leppävaaran Pallo”. She found her own place as a goalkeeper – actually making sand cakes! From the beginning, we as parents were actively involved in girls’ team. Father acted as a guardian, and mother Anne participated in various activities and was otherwise helpful. A few years later, it was time to push to the next stage. We set out to find a more competitive and goal-oriented team for the children at their own wish. Girls wanted to develop more and a suitable place was found in the Football Club “FC Honka” Academy. Katriina and her sister got to practice, develop and play the sport they love with all their hearts. The team made tournament trips in Finland and also abroad in Sweden and Germany.
Their team’s tournament trip to Germany in June 2014 revolutionized the family’s daily lives for years to come. A discussion on the sidelines with representatives from FC Nürnberg was followed by a successful test week for both girls under the eyes of the club’s coaches and a big decision affecting the whole family. The club offered the sisters a place on their junior team.
After successful test week in 2014 for Katriina and her sister under the eyes of the 1. FC Nürnberg Club’s coaches was a turning point. The big decision after the tests affected the whole family on that year. The move to Germany required a lot of preparation. However, girls were very determined and they did not hesitate at all to play in Germany! Both girls had a strong desire to try and a desire to show that they want to take their football skills to a new level. In hindsight, there was a surprising amount of work involved in arranging things, which required self-examination and time. When the level of demand for both sports and school was kept high, there was little free time left. The new everyday life was busy for both, but not in a grueling way. I remember the feeling when Katriina got the license to play in WU17 Bundesliga – Katriina rejoiced the FEELING was really GOOOD! After all, football is a common language, you don’t need language skills to understand it. In the beginning, English was also used by girls with the coach. And we have to remember the fact that girls had read German for several years in Finland.
A year after moving to Germany, Katriina and her sister Pauliina reached another stage in their careers when they were invited to play for FC Bayern Munich. The sports career now continued at a more demanding and rewarding level. For the following years, everyday life revolved around training and studying in high school. Our task as parents was to take care of the whole and balanced everyday life of girls, “the young athletes”. However, unlike in Finland, in a top German team, a football mother does not have to fry mocha pieces or act as a team leader. Parents have “no responsibility” other than to watch games and drive as needed.
It was an extremely rewarding and interesting period for us to live in Munich, Germany. I give my kind greetings to all the friends & fans there! Hopefully, our example could encourage other families to support their children to enjoy sport as well. Then it was time to move on. First, Pauliina moved to the United States. A year later in 2019, Katriina moved on to continue her career in Lyon, France. She is very happy and satisfied right now to live her dream in Lyon and to be a part of the “OL Family”, the Olympique Lyonnais Feminin Team in France.