After nine years in OBOS Damallsvenskan and Elitettan, representing every Swedish youth national team, and winning the U19 European Championship, Matilda Haglund decided last fall to retire from her goalkeeper career. However, she was not ready to leave elite football behind entirely. 

– Becoming a coach allows me to give back and share my experience with young, talented goalkeepers, says Haglund, who is currently goalkeeping coach for Lidköpings FK.  

Matilda Haglund’s football dreams began in the small village of Järpås, 20 kilometers outside Lidköping. Through talent, training, and determination, she reached the top. Despite her career being cut short last autumn after four knee surgeries, Haglund has notable achievements to her name. Including winning the Swedish Championship with Linköpings FC and a European Championship with the Swedish U19 national team. 

Since the age of twelve, there has only differed one letter in the first part of the clubs she represented, but the joy and pride of football has been just as great wherever she has been.  

Starting at her childhood club, she moved to Lidköpings IF, then played five seasons with Linköpings FC in the OBOS Damallsvenskan from 2016 to 2020. She returned in 2021 to Västergötland and Lidköpings FK, which was renamed following a merger. Haglund has also played for all Swedish youth national teams, from U15 to U23. 

Although she is new to coaching, she has a lot of experience from her active career to guide the next generation of goalkeepers. 
– I wasn’t ready to leave football behind—it’s been a big part of my life. Simply walking away wasn’t an option, I love the sport to much. Additionally, it’s also about giving back to both Lidköping FK and women’s Swedish football.  

In her initial period as coach, Haglund has been focusing on adapting to her new role, applying her unique perspective on goalkeeping through the way she organizes and conducts training sessions. 

What qualities do you consider most crucial to being a successful coach? 

– It’s probably a mix of many different qualities. Above all, I would say, a successful coach is someone who sees the whole person and not just the footballer, has a tactical understanding and technical competence as well as being responsive, committed, communicative, goal-oriented and constantly wants to develop herself and her surroundings. 

What challenges have you faced in your coaching role and how do you deal with them?  

– I coach goalkeepers, they have a vulnerable position with a lot of mental pressure where mistakes can lead to goals for the opponents. Dealing with mental pressure is therefore a challenge I deal with by acting from a psychological perspective and regularly giving positive feedback to strengthen the goalkeepers.  

– I also feel that I may encounter challenges related to each goalkeeper’s playing time. To deal with this, I want to have an open communication around how the goalkeepers improve their chances of playing time.  

What are your goals as a coach? 

– I aim to continuously improve the goalkeepers I coach, but also myself. By fostering an environment of curiosity and active involvement, I strive to help the goalkeepers achieve their individual goals and also the goals for the team. Personally, I aspire to represent Sweden as a goalkeeping coach in the future. 
Haglund envisions a future for Swedish women’s football characterized by equal recognition, resources, and opportunities as men’s football, where equality and inclusion are the norm. 

What needs to be done to bring out more female coaches at the elite level?  

– It’s about changing structures and attitudes in sport, to build a more inclusive and equal future. For example, it could be about working with education and development through mentoring consisting of female coaches or creating networks for female coaches. 

– It can also be about working with role models and increasing the visibility of female coaches or changing the working conditions so it’s easier to combine the coaching profession with family life. Football associations and clubs need to work more actively to allocate resources to promote female leadership and support the development of female coaches, so it’s positive that Elitfotboll Dam together with partners has now launched the project Elite coaching pathways. 

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