**There can be no doubting the influence of family on us all, with parental guidance in many cases having a tangible effect on their children’s’ subsequent paths. The Norway squad here at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ is no exception, to an extent that there is little surprise they find themselves involved in sport at the very highest level.
Take Maria Thorisdottir’s father, Thorir Hergeirsson, who was a handball player, while the father of Marita Skammelsrud Lund, Bent Skammelsrud, was also a professional footballer. Maren Mjelde’s dad was a football player and, in Mjelde’s case, her mother and brother are also self-confessed fanatics of the beautiful game.
Furthermore, Isabell Herlovsen’s dad, Kai, earned a living from football for many years, turning out for Fredrikstad FK and Borussia Monchengladbach between 1979 and 1990, as well as winning 34 senior caps for Norway. “We used to play and train together a lot, but he never forced me to play football,” said the 26-year-old striker to FIFA.com. “He’s given me a lot of very important advice. In fact, he still does.”
Indeed, on her visits home father and daughter still head out for kickarounds, with valuable results. “He was a defensive player, so he explains to me the kind of things that defenders find hard to cope with,” said Herlovsen, wisely not wishing to reveal the exact nature of these nuggets of wisdom.
Though Kai will not be able to join her at Canada 2015 early on in the competition, Isabell can count on having him at the other end of the phone when she needs him. “He’ll be following the games on television from Norway and I’ll try and call him after,” she said. “After the games he usually has positive things to say to me, though he’s not afraid to criticise if I make a mistake or when I don’t know how to resolve a situation.”
Passing on her experience
Such support has proved key to Herlovsen’s progress, the front-runner now boasting over ten years’ involvement in Norway’s senior squad and is about to take part in her third Women’s World Cup.
“At my first World Cup [in 2007], the senior players took it upon themselves to chat with me and that was a big help,” said the Norwegian No9, on her determination to do the same for her younger colleagues. “Before matches I used to get really nervous, but they helped me to calm down. It’s important that experienced players look out for you.”
Likely to be her partner in attack is the second-youngest player in Even Pellerud’s squad, 19-year-old Ada Hederberg, who goes into Canada 2015 on the back of a prolific season for Olympique Lyonnais. On Herlovsen and Hederberg’s shoulders will rest much of their side’s goalscoring burden in their opening Group B clash on 7 June, when the Scandinavians will set out as favourites against debutants Thailand.
“It’s tricky not knowing quite what to expect against them,” said Herlovsen, though the squad have been going through video analysis of their opening opponents, with a view to picking up all three points. “We just need to keep our cool, get out on the pitch and win the game.”
Making a first victory all the more crucial is the fact that Germany are Norway’s second Group B opponents. And a positive result against the team that beat them in the final of UEFA EURO 2013 would certainly smooth the way towards the knockout stages, with Herlovsen set to turn 27 on 23 June, the date of the competition’s last Round of 16 match.
“Let’s hope we’re still in Canada then!” concluded the LSK Kvinner FK star and, should it be the case, she would have plenty of good reasons for a chat with her dad.