Back in her homeland with Eskilstuna United DFF after spells in Russia and Germany, Sweden international Olivia Schough has the opportunity to ignite her form ahead of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup, with a little time to melodically soothe her compatriots along the way too of course.
On Sweden’s journey to the semi-final of the European Championship two years ago they were buoyed by tremendous support, willing them toward success as the host nation. Although plenty of casual observers were arguably most familiar with the likes of attacking star Lotta Schelin and her co-captain and midfielder Caroline Seger, many have since come to know more about the other seasoned and accomplished players in the squad, as well as the emerging talents.
Along with legendary midfielder and record cap-holder Therese Sjögran, there are the up-and-comers, of which forward Olivia Schough is certainly one. Recently turning 24, she was part of the team that finished 4th in this month’s Algarve Cup, a competition that had provided her first action with the National Team back in 2013.
Later that year, the lively and popular personality was in Pia Sundhage’s 23 for Euro 2013, coming off the bench in the group win over Italy but also displaying her undeniable performer’s credentials off the field. Her sisters, Lydia, Matilda and Lovisa, released the track ‘Dansa Fotboll’ for the tournament and joined Olivia and their father in singing a number of songs for the team at their hotel during the early stages of the competition.
‘Dansa Fotboll’ was a regular on the dressing room playlist during those weeks and Olivia had featured with Lydia on a song made for the Sweden team as they competed in the 2012 London Olympics. An established player at the top level back home, as Olivia’s football career has progressed in recent years more and more teammates have had the listening pleasure of her smooth vocals.
The former Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC player has been complimented on her singing on this site in the past by career teammates Christen Press, Nilla Fischer and Yael Averbuch, as well as her aforementioned national team coach Pia Sundhage. Olivia shares some of the background story to this love of hers.
“My sisters started early with music. They performed at young ages but I was too shy to participate at that time.
“In my teenage years, I got more confident and also realised that it does not sound so bad when I sing after all! I have been singing ever since then – it is lovely!”
Olivia’s musical expression is the intriguing backdrop to an unravelling adventure on the field. Göteborg were winners of the Svenska Cupen on two occasions in her time there (2011 and 2012) and she also had her introduction to the UEFA Champions League during this spell of her young career.
Last year saw new horizons for the Falkenberg native as she represented FC Bayern Munich in the Frauen-Bundesliga before venturing to Russia to turn out for WFC Rossiyanka. Stepping out of your comfort zone to take on new challenges amid different surroundings can be particularly tough and even the smallest things can help a person in such situations.
For Olivia, music remained with her as she took her career and life to those countries, having to contend with injury in Germany and a severe struggle in communication once she moved to Russia. Most of us can relate to times when we didn’t feel so strong and how that rush from a certain song helped to drag us through.
As she names some of the artists that are most prevalent in the soundtrack to her life, Olivia mentions a global superstar who she will later go on to discuss further, as well as adding American country and some ‘Loopified’ Swedish flavour to the mix.
“I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but I would say that Beyoncé, Dixie Chicks and Dirty Loops are my favourites. I sing and play guitar myself and I grew up with music so it has a special place in my heart, for sure.”
A character with a natural way of making everything that bit more interesting and fun, it makes perfect sense for Olivia to love music when you consider the new dimensions and colour that it brings to our lives. Players often like to dance in the changing room before or after a game (if the result has gone well), as well as on the pitch in celebration, and the Swedish National Team are great examples of this.
When the players need something to dance to it is a mainstay and supreme midfield talent who is usually on hand to find the right vibe, as Olivia explains.
“Caroline Seger is the team DJ in the National Team but I can help her sometimes. It is mostly Swedish House Mafia-kind of music but sing-along songs are very popular too!
“I would rather not be responsible for the music actually. I dance and sing to whatever the DJ plays!”
In the aftermath of Sweden’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina last September, a game in which Olivia started, goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl posted a video of the team’s dressing room celebrations to Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’. Olivia showed off some of her moves in that clip, but are there any other songs in general that stand out for her as personal favourites?
“Wow, there are so many, but I would say ‘Love on Top’ by Beyoncé. It has the perfect beat and changes key four times in the end, which is very rare, but I love it!”
Olivia’s inclusion in Sweden’s squad for Euro 2013 was momentous enough but that time was made even more memorable as the team stayed in her hometown of Falkenberg for part of the tournament. As she came on in the 3-1 win over Italy in Halmstad for left-back Sara Thunebro, a music/football interviewee on here last year, the immensely proud and considerable contingent who had come out to support Olivia could be heard clearly.
The team’s hotel did not have the television channel for some of the tournament’s live games so Olivia made the very short walk over to her father’s place with her roommate, defender Jessica Samuelsson, to keep track of the action. Olivia’s dad is actually a full-time musician so it is fair to say she was raised to recognise vocal and instrumental sparkle.
As she picks out some of the smoothest songstresses she has played alongside, Olivia recalls how a Sweden and Montpellier defender marked a landmark occasion of hers with a little added extra to go with the goal she had netted in the 1-1 draw with Canada that day.
“I know for sure that Caroline Seger, Emma Berglund and Lotta Schelin are good singers but I have never seen them perform in front of everyone. So I would say Linda Sembrant’s performance to the group after her 50th cap – it was hilarious!”
Before she ever stepped into the international arena at senior level, Olivia played for Sweden at the Under-20 World Cup in 2010. A year previous to that, she was a member of the squad that finished as runners-up to England in the Under-19 European Championship in Belarus.
Any player has to work their way up in the game before they reach any kind of prominence and as Olivia touched upon earlier, she has also gone through a certain amount of growth as a singer, gaining a further degree of confidence that she has since taken into her general life. As those who have witnessed her performances will confirm, she is capable of hitting the notes admirably well, as is the American singer whose album Olivia remembers as the first she ever bought.
“It must have been Anastacia’s ‘Freak of Nature’; I was obsessed with her as a kid. It was released in 2001 and I was ten years old.”
A starter for the Swedes in the 2-0 loss to Brazil en route to a 4th-place finish at the Algarve Cup this month, it goes without saying just how much Olivia would love to wear her nation’s jersey in Canada at this year’s World Cup. Their opponents in the group phase will be the United States, Australia and Nigeria, with any meetings against fellow European teams having to wait until the latter stages, should Sweden progress.
One country who won’t be at the tournament, despite reaching the semi-final of Euro 2013, is Denmark. It took an equaliser from defender Nilla Fischer to rescue a point for Sweden in their group opener with their Nordic neighbours in Gothenburg two years ago but Olivia has special Danish memories of her own.
“I saw Beyoncé live in Copenhagen not long ago and I started to cry when she entered the stage. She was crazy good.”
Such is the standard of musical performance served up by the Schough sisters that they have even been booked to play events such as weddings. In Nilla Fischer’s interview on here last April, the Wolfsburg dynamo was asked which player she would have alongside her to record a song cover with, if she was ever placed in that situation. Her response: “I would totally choose Olivia Schough and maybe do a German schlager!”
That genre may not be to everyone’s liking but the end result of that duet would surely be quite something. When the same question was put to Olivia, she also went for a fellow Swede, opting for a somewhat novelty collaboration with the defender!
“It will definitely be with my best friend Beata Kollmats who plays in Gothenburg FC. We would make an even better version of Lou Bega’s hit single ‘Mambo No. 5’!”
A forward player who has also figured in a deeper position, Olivia has been getting amongst the goals in pre-season for her new club. Eskilstuna United achieved a final placing of 7th in the 2014 Damallsvenskan in what was their first season at the top level.
Following their Svenska Cupen game with Piteå IF on March 29th, they will begin the new league season at home to Linköpings on April 12th. Eskilstuna’s home stadium of Tunavallen will host Sweden’s friendly with Switzerland a week before this, with National Team boss Pia Sundhage then turning her attention to a match-up with Denmark in Stockholm on April 8th.
One of Sweden’s youngsters to watch is 21-year-old midfielder/forward Elena Sadiku, who was also taking on the team DJ role with authority for Eskilstuna last season, according to Sara Thunebro on here. Rhythms to get Olivia dancing and singing will undoubtedly be appreciated but feeling wanted and a genuinely valued part of something matters most to her as she begins the latest chapter of her story.
“I like my teammates and leaders very much; they all want to be better every day, which I like. I decided to come to Eskilstuna because they were showing the most interest.
“It was so important for me to come to a club that believes in me.”
The people closest to Olivia will say that life is rarely without its fun around her and through social media she gives great insight into her career and those who share in it with her. The ability to make all sorts of situations enjoyable for people is one of her most gleaming characteristics, but everyone encounters struggles sometimes.
Olivia was given plenty to reflect on last year as she represented FC Bayern and WFC Rossiyanka, but from the testing moments there were unquestionable positives she was able to take.
“I learned a lot. Germany was not easy because it started so bad with injuries and big illness problems.
“I had to work hard mentally to deal with everything that was going on, and in that way, I also grew as a person. Russia was a little different.
“I was never injured or sick, could play all the time, but the language barrier was so difficult for me, so I spent most of the time by myself. I’m used to being the one talking all the time, so it was hard at first, but I learned how to deal with it eventually.
“I am now more responsible and mature as a person after this time abroad.”
In more than one regard, the stage is set for Olivia this year. Before we sit back and see what the coming months bring for her at club and international level, and just maybe in another music video, it is time for her to round off the interview by looking back on some of her most impactful colleagues in the last few years.
Each player interviewed on here is asked to picture themselves in a 5-a-side line-up and to select four of their teammates (past or present) to go alongside them. Olivia’s team has a very strong Swedish identity, with a German-born FF USV Jena forward who has just recently been capped by Croatia providing the attacking power here.
“Keeper: Kristin Hammarström – she is the best goalkeeper I have ever had. Almost impossible to score on.
“Defender: Emma Berglund – great defender with a good passing technique. Midfielder: Caroline Seger – nobody can control a game as she can.
“Forward: Ivana Rudelic – for her speed, technique and hard shot!”
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