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CZEXPAT Interview: Kateřina Svitková, football player of the West Ham United women's team

We can find many great personalities and inspiring stories among Czech expats living in the United Kingdom. Today, we bring you our CZEXPATS Interview with Kateřina Svitková, a former player of Slavia Prague and three-time Czech footballer of the year, who has been  playing for the West Ham United women's team since autumn 2020.

Hello Kateřina, we are very happy to have you here in London. How does it feel to play for West Ham United and how did you manage to fit into the new team?

It is a great honor for me to play for West Ham, it is one of the traditional big clubs in England and it has an incredible history of the men's team, so I will try to build the history of the women's one. Everyone on the team is very nice and accommodating, so from the first moment it was no problem to feel at home here. It's unbelievable how many different nationalities and cultures can get along so well.

Was moving to the UK a big leap for you? How does life in London and the British culture suit you?

Yes, I must admit that everything was a challenge for me. Whether it was the things on the pitch or in my personal life, such as finding housing or arranging various other services in a new language, it was completely new to me. I was very surprised how nice and willing the British are. In our country, they are usually considered "cold", but on the contrary, so far I only have experience with a friendly approach. As for London, unfortunately I haven't really had time to go and see it at all, because of Covid I was more at home. So I believe that it will be more relaxed now and I will be able to explore also other places rather than just the classic tourist attractions. The fact is that I have only 4 English female players in the team and I don't come into contact with so many other people, so I haven't really encountered any major specifics of the British culture yet. However, I have already prepared a list of some cultural shows and events that I would like to visit.

Do you feel a big difference in the style of football and in the difficulty of the competition compared to the Czech league, where you played for Slavia Prague?

I came here realizing that this was the only fully professional women’s league in Europe, so I somehow anticipated the differences. The main one is definitely in the speed of the game. As of the first training, I immediately realized that I won't have much time to look around and think about my next step, as another player would tackle me right away. I would say that the league is very balanced a the favorite can never be sure in advance that the match will be a win, which unfortunately was our case in the Czech Republic. Back home, for most matches, it was just a question of how many goals we will be able to score.

This season of the women's football competition in England is over, the WHU team placed 9th out of 12 teams. How do you evaluate the past season and how were you satisfied with your performances?

It was my first season abroad, so it was clear to me that it would take a while to get used to the new environment. Before the season, I expected the team to place better, to compete for a place in the Champions League. Nut unfortunately in the end a few unpredictable things happened, a lot of players went through injuries and we have experienced three different coaches, which certainly left impact on the team. We ended up playing for surviving in the first league, which we fortunately managed. As for me personally, unfortunately I didn’t manage to avoid an injury either. It was the first time in my career that I would be out of the game for such a long time. The first knee injury came right after the second round, when I was injured during a national team match against Poland and the second came now at the end of the season. Unfortunately, it required a surgery and the convalescence will be a bit longer. However, I should be ready for the first matches of the new season, so I believe that I will return stronger and my second year in London will be better than the first one.

Your colleagues from the WHU men team are doing really well this season. Are you in contact with them and do their successes have a positive effect on how they look at you in the club?

Of course, I watch the boys and I support them a lot. We communicate with Tomáš from time to time over text messages and I met Vláďa recently, so we also exchanged a few words. I think they both made an incredible impression on the whole Premier League, they show great performances and overall they are well settled in their team and that's why they are doing so good. The girls have a lot of fun chatting about the men’s tram it in the cabin, especially Kate Longhurst is a big fan and discusses each of their matches. They generally agree that the arrival of Tomáš was an important factor for the last year's rescue in the Premier League and for the current successful run of the whole team.

You yourself have recently experienced a great disappointment when you failed to qualify to the women's football EURO in a game against Switzerland. How do you see the chances of the Czech men's team that will present itself at the European Football Championship in the United Kingdom in a few weeks' time?

I think we have a strong team and we can show a very good performance. I am very sorry that Lukáš Provod was so unluckily injured, he was in an incredible form and I support him a lot. I wonder how far will the team get, I will definitely cheer for them and I hope that I will have the opportunity to see some of their matches at the stadium.

Finally, do you have something you would like to say to football fans in both the UK and the Czech Republic?

I hope that the Covid situation will ease and fans will be able to go back at the stadiums, because we all miss them a lot. I believe that women's football in both England and the Czech Republic will move a bit further again and we will show everyone that we can also play great football.