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Lisa Naalsund from Norway: “Mental health is important. I am no longer afraid to be myself ‘| Norway women’s national football team


Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, the new (and free) newsletter for women’s Guardian football. Here is an excerpt from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just write your email below:

Anyone who has struggled with mental health knows how difficult it is to take this first step. Whether it’s a lack of self-confidence, anxiety or something else, opening up is a scary prospect. But when you do, it’s also the most rewarding thing that allows you to express yourself to the best of your ability.

For an elite footballer, self-confidence is key. It is often said that a happy footballer becomes successful, and it is important for players to be able to develop. This was the reason why Lisa Naalsund, the midfielder of Bran and Norway, jumped on the offer of support in 2019.

Advancing through the Norwegian youth system, she began to realize that something was wrong. Feeling that her mental limits prevented her from performing on the field, she turned to the coach for help. “I felt really shy and insecure as a person,” she says, “and not as a footballer, because that was the only thing I was good at.” I felt that my personality prevented me from performing in my best condition. “

Her support came from a familiar face. Her coach was strongly looking for mental health education training and needed athletes for training. For Naalsund, the time was perfect. A year after she took the first step, she saw a difference both in herself and on the field: “I feel more mature and more like myself. I’m not afraid to be myself. So it gives me confidence that helps on the field, in games and in practice, because I don’t care what others say, so it’s a good place. ”

The rewards are obvious. These were whirlwinds of 12 months for the Bergen native. She played an important role in the race that led SK Brann – then called Sandviken – to the Toppserien 2021 title, receiving high praise from her manager Alexander Strauss. Respect is clearly mutual: “I think it’s important for a coach to be a good coach. [Someone] which can also be good in sports, but also with people on the team … it’s good to have a coach who wants you to be the best and wants you to be the best ”.

The internal success prompted the national team to challenge, and Naalsund finally made his debut against Sweden last summer. “It was a lot of fun,” she recalls. “I waited a long time and I felt that last year was a breakthrough for me in the national team because I felt the time was right.”

Lisa Naalsund made her debut for Norway against Sweden in 2021. Photo: SPP Sport Press Photo./Alamy

Again, time is everything. Now, having five matches in her name, she hopes to take part in the European Championships this summer. Overwhelmed with talent, Norway is one of the dark horses in the tournament that she takes: “We’re kind of outsiders. We hope that we will do well and play good matches against the best teams and maybe we will be able to make it to the quarterfinals. [We will] accept each game as it is, and then see how far we go. “

Armed with the tools to succeed, the future is exciting. Nalsund dreams of winning another title with Bran, success at the Euros and qualifying for the Champions League. Seeing the rewards for the help she has received, she firmly believes that every player should have access to mental health support: “It’s really important. I think everyone should get some help. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, you probably need it … I think it’s a little weird that not every team hires people more often to help players. “

  • In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted by 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Line is on 800-273-8255 or chatting for support. You can also send a HOME message to 741741 to contact a crisis line consultant. In Australia, the Crisis Support Service is available at 13 11 14. Other international hotlines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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