“He got me in contact with the coaches who then invited me to come check out the city and train with the team for 10 days to get a feel of what life would be like. After a few days of training and tourism, [Östersunds DFF] offered me a contract and there was no question I was going to sign,” says Helverson, who joined the team in Sweden last week.
Östersunds DFF is in the Elitettan, the second tier of women’s soccer in Sweden. Formed in 2001, Östersunds DFF has been rising through the Swedish pyramid over the past several years. In 2012, the team finished first in fourth tier Division 2 and was promoted to Division 1. It spent only two years there before being promoted to Elitettan for the 2015 season.
“They are all very technical but the formation and style of play is similar to how I played at the U,” says Helverson of her new team. “We play a high back-line and pressure defense which is another reason why I was interested in the team. This style plays to my strengths because I like to make forward runs and get involved in the attack as a defender. This is what my coach was looking for in my position. So, I’m glad I could bring that fluidity to the table.”
Head coach Håkan Lindström describes Helverson as “perfect for us as a defender” and is impressed with her speed and ability to read a game. “Haley has played left back, but I also see that she has a talent as a central defender. I think she can reach the highest league in Sweden.”
The Iowa native and Des Moines Menace alum was a four-year starter for Minnesota and a standout defender for the Gophers. She was named to the Freshman All-Big Ten team and was a captain both her junior and senior years. Helverson says that her experiences at the U of M helped prepare her for this next step. The biggest lesson was the importance of being coachable. “I want to learn to play to my teammates strengths in order for us to be successful. It would be difficult to adjust to anything if I wasn’t open to learning and trying new things on this journey.”
Lindström echoes that sentiment. “Her personality to always be a little better at each and every accomplishment will be valuable. As a coach, I can’t wish for more and am very pleased that she is playing for us this year.”
Östersunds DFF will have its first match of the regular season this Sunday against newly promoted Assi IF.
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