Norwegian Defender Mathilde Harviken's Battle with Nerves at Women's World Cup Debut
Norwegian defender Mathilde Harviken opened up about her challenging experience battling nerves before her team's inaugural Women's World Cup Group A match against New Zealand. The 21-year-old center-back, speaking at a press conference in Auckland, shared her unexpected struggle with nerves that significantly impacted her performance.
Admitting her apprehension before the game, Mathilde expressed that she had anticipated some level of nervousness as it was her first appearance at a major tournament. However, the magnitude of the anxiety surpassed anything she had encountered before.
In preparation for the crucial match, Mathilde sought counsel from Morten Asli, the mental coach of the Norwegian team, as well as the more experienced players within the squad. They offered their guidance and shared their own debut experiences, emphasizing the importance of treating the game as they would any other, without allowing the pressure to overwhelm them.
Despite their efforts to maintain composure, Norway seemed uncertain and tentative on the field, with misplaced passes and resorting to clearing the ball out of danger. Mathilde attributed this to her nervousness, admitting that she played it safe and refrained from taking bold risks during the game.
The match saw New Zealand's Hannah Wilkinson secure the sole goal early in the second half, earning her team a historic victory at the World Cup. Norway's disappointing exit at the group stage during the previous Euros added to the weight of the situation, making the defeat even harder to bear.
In the aftermath of the loss, Norway coach Hege Riise called for resilience and determination from the team. Rather than dwelling on their defeat, she emphasized the importance of hard work and a unified strategy for their upcoming Group A game against Switzerland on Tuesday.
Mathilde's openness about her struggles with nerves highlights the psychological challenges faced by athletes on the world stage. Her willingness to seek help and support from her team's mental coach and senior players demonstrates the importance of addressing mental well-being in sports, showing that even elite athletes can experience pressure and anxiety.