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Becky Edwards, midfielder and co-captain for the 2011 WPS champion WNY Flash and winner of the gold medal at the 2008 U-20 World Cup in Chile, is not accustomed to losing. But after winning two WPS titles in as many years in the league, she is now playing for a team that she can't lead to victory.
Just two days after the WPS final, Edwards left for Stockholm to take on a new challenge with Sweden's highest-level women's league, the Damallsvenskan. Her team, Hammarby IF, is struggling through a season that began in April, and signed Edwards as a last-ditch effort to save itself from relegation. However, after Edwards' short tenure on the squad, the team's fate is nearly sealed.
With three weeks remaining and virtually no chance at avoiding relegation, Edwards focuses on the positives. She spoke to fellow soccer player and espnW contributor Val Henderson about what her life is like on and off the pitch.
Val Henderson: What were your expectations upon coming to Sweden?
Becky Edwards: Honestly, I didn't have much time to create expectations before coming here. I knew I wanted to continue playing after the WPS season, and I had heard that the level in Damallsvenskan was very good. I have really enjoyed my experience so far, although my team has been struggling to get the results we need.
VH: What were the club's expectations of you?
BE: I think the club expected me to come in and do whatever possible to stay in the top division. However, I think they were also aware I wasn't going to be a savior for the team. Our coach stresses the importance of playing for pride and results, but also emphasizes our development as individuals. I can definitely still positively impact the team by bringing a hard-working mentality and encouraging my teammates to not give up.
VH: How different has this experience been, especially going from winning to losing?
BE: This is certainly a change from my two years playing in WPS. The first game that I played, we lost 3-0 to KIF Írebro. It was the first game I had lost in several months and it was difficult for me to deal with. Looking at the positives, it is good for me to experience the feelings associated with losing and made me realize winning doesn't come easy.
VH: If winning doesn't come easy, what has been a key to your success? And how does it translate to your game in Sweden?
BE: Hard work has been the main reason for those championships. Team chemistry is always important in championship teams and I have worked hard to get to know my teammates on any team that I'm on. I have worked hard on the field, but I have also made efforts to take coaching tips and ideas from all the coaches I have played for. In Sweden, I hope I can build relationships with my teammates and coaches as I have done on other teams and use what they have taught me to continue to develop as a person and as a player.
VH: How is the team morale? Is everyone keeping a positive attitude like you?
BE: We are obviously not getting the results we want, but we are not a bad team. We all work hard in practice still and get along well, and we play for our pride. Of course there are times when words and actions are much more negative than they would be if we were a winning team, but the morale is usually upbeat.
VH: Are you learning any Swedish?
BE: I was trying to think of something clever to say in Swedish and drew a blank. I think that answers the question. It's hard to force myself to learn when everyone speaks English.
VH: You'll be going back to the Flash next season, but is staying in Sweden something you would've considered?
BE: I enjoy the possession game here and the sophisticated football minds most of the players have and would consider playing here if I wasn't going back to the Flash. However, I am looking forward to going back and building toward another WPS championship!