Kelly Jenks Kokkola experience
2.8.2015 18:50 Uutiset / Kokkola Futis 10

Kelly Jenksin kokemuksia Kokkolasta.

Hei hei!

I can’t believe I’ve been in Kokkola for 4 ½ months now. The months have flown by while I’ve been enjoying the professional footballer lifestyle. I’ve accumulated many new experiences, met many new people and learned so many new things that I already know my time
here has been, and is, well worth it!

When I first arrived in Kokkola and met the team, I could tell right away it was a fun group of girls. My teammates are young (I’m the second oldest on the team, Ciara is the oldest), energetic and skillful. I think my teammates would agree that coming together as a group has taken some time. The beginning of the season was tough because our roster was so small and we had some injuries. We also had some unlucky games and things just didn’t seem to go our way. Despite that, we had instances where we played really well and showed we had a lot of potential—we just needed to put all the right pieces together. As the season’s progressed our team has grown. In addition to adding more good players, the overall focus level during trainings has increased, and players have embraced their roles on the field. We’re playing more cohesively and starting to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Although we are sitting in fifth place in the league, I’m excited to begin the second half of the season because I believe we are just now finding our rhythm. We’ve shown that when we play as a team, we are hard to beat!

Besides playing football, life in Finland is very different from my life back in California, U.S.A. To start, the Finnish language is unlike anything I’ve heard before. Words seem so hard to pronounce and understand! The first month here I resorted to using my translator app. on my phone, but I kept forgetting everything I was reading, so that strategy has since been thrown out the window. Now, I try and pick up words as I go—some stay with me, but a lot don’t. For my fellow Americans and I, communicating with our teammates on the field has been tricky but I’m slowly picking up what certain phrases on the soccer field mean (like varo, aika, hyva, loistava). My teammates still mess with me at times but I enjoy a good laugh (Veera and Sofia—still haven’t forgotten about the time you told me Petri said we had to sprint to the other side of the field when he had said just to the 18 yard box haha). My teammates Ada and Vikke are good translators, and thankfully our teamchief Toni translates drills for us Americans as well so we’re not completely lost!

People have asked me what the hardest thing to get used to in Finland was—my answer: the weather. Having lived in California my whole life, this is the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced! Before coming to Finland my friends and family tried to fill me in on how to cope with the cold and gave me everything from hand-warmers and jackets to boots and gloves. But actually packing up and leaving the 23-degree Celsius weather in California and coming to 4 degrees took some getting used to. I’ll always remember after a training session in March, a few weeks after I arrived, when Coach Petri told the team we would be training outside on the turf from here on out. There was snow outside, so I thought Petri was joking. He wasn’t.

The next day at training I nearly froze and I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes for an hour and a half! I consider myself a mentally strong person, but I had a moment of weakness and remember thinking after that practice “What the heck am I doing here. How am I going to make it through this season?” Thank goodness the snow didn’t last too much longer and in April it cleared up (side note: major props to my Finnish teammates who’ve played in this weather their whole life. You guys are tough). I still find myself wondering when the sun will come out since its “summer” right now, but I’ve accepted that maybe the sun will stay in hiding. Anyway, life moves on!

I’ve learned many things about Finnish life while being here. To name a few: first, saunas are magical and every athlete should take advantage of them (talk about doing wonders for sore muscles)! Second, there is never a bad time to drink coffee. 7pm coffee—completely normal and acceptable. Third, Finland loves potatoes. Mashed, roasted, baked… you can find them at every restaurant and café. Since being here, I’ve also realized I’ll never like the taste of black licorice but the Finnish Cloetta chocolate bar is amazing. I’ve also learned that the cottage life is a wonderful thing but always have mosquito repellent on hand. In general, my impression is that Fins seem like very friendly, introverted and helpful human beings! While life Finland is different from the U.S. in many ways, the language of football, is universal. Coming in and being able to play the game I love, in a foreign country, and in a competitive environment has been thrilling. I’m thankful to be here and am proud to play for Kokkola Futis 10!

--Kelly


   
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