Pavlína Ščasná – leading Czech women’s soccer player looking forward to new challenge in US

Pavlína Ščasná is one of the greatest Czech women’s soccer players ever. She took up the sport as a child when her father, coach Zdeněk Ščasný, was managing a club in Cyprus and her older brother needed somebody to play against. Ščasná played football with boys until she was 14, before only two years later being named Czech player of the year for the first of five times. Now 27, she is soon set to play alongside the Brazilian star Marta at Los Angeles Sol, after what has been described as the biggest transfer in the history of Czech women’s soccer.

“I played with boys until I was 14 years old. I think that was great training, because boys play a little bit differently than small girls. I had the opportunity to practice with very good players and to learn a lot of new stuff from them, especially from older boys like my brother.”

At the age of 14 did you have to stop playing with boys, or how did you come to switch to women’s football?

Pavlína ŠčasnáPavlína Ščasná “Yes, I had to stop playing with boys and I had to switch to playing with women or girls. And I started immediately to play for the best women’s team, Sparta Prague.”

How many people would go a Sparta women’s game here in Prague?

“Not so many. It depends which team they meet, what kind of game it is. When they play the second-best Prague team Slavia and it’s a big derby more people come and more people are interested. I guess about 1,000 people could come, but it’s the absolute maximum.”

You became the Czech female player of the year at only 16, which meant of course you were younger than most of the other players you were playing against. How did they react to the fact that you were better than them at only 16?

“I don’t know how they reacted. I hope they respected the fact I was voted the best female player at that age…I can speak about my thoughts, and I was totally excited about the fact I won this great prize at such a young age.”

Do you wear special boots, or simply smaller boots?

“I have quite small boots, size 38. Sometimes in the past I had a problem finding good boots. But right now I’m sponsored by Nike and it’s much easier – I get great stuff. There are some special women’s boots and I really like them…Maybe like men, women like coloured boots, and I like white ones.”

I was quite surprised to read about the Czech international women’s team that their strips were hand-me-downs from the men’s teams.

Pavlína Ščasná (left), photo: CTKPavlína Ščasná (left), photo: CTK “Yes, that’s true. In the past in some Czech teams we got strips from the men’s team. It wasn’t so great because they were too big and we didn’t feel very comfortable in them. But right now – especially when I play abroad in top European and world teams – I have just a great experience. Our strips are in women’s sizes, so I don’t have any problems with that any more.”

After starting in the Czech league you played in Germany for Bayern Munich, you played in the US for Philadelphia Charge, then you played for a couple of teams in Sweden – which country have you most enjoyed playing in?

“Honestly, I loved playing in Sweden. I was there a little bit longer and I liked the mentality of the people, the players, I loved the atmosphere in the team. And on the field I think European football is a little bit different from American football. It’s a little bit more slow and technical – you can use more finesse than in US football.

“American football is very, very athletic, every game is on the highest level – it’s harder to show technical finesse than in Europe. But I’m pretty flexible and I can get used to every kind of football. And I hope as a European that I can bring something different to American football.”

A few years ago you said you were satisfied playing in Sweden and no longer interested in going to America. How come you’ve now going to the US to play for Los Angeles Sol?

“Yes, that’s true, I did say that. And I really enjoyed playing soccer in Sweden. I was happy in my previous team at WFC Malmo – I found great team-mates and we played a very good quality of football. But after that strange things happened at my Swedish team…and then I got a call from my American friend who told me about the possibility of going overseas to Los Angeles Sol.

“I imagined it could be a great opportunity to play in the best league in the world. Because many, many players are going overseas from Europe right now, and the quality of the Swedish league I suppose will go down and will be worse than it was in previous years.

“On the other hand, the American WPS will just get better and be absolutely the best in the world. Also Los Angeles Sol has a great team, with a very big star Marta, and not only her but also many, many great players like Aya Miyama from Japan…I imagined it could be a great opportunity for me to show America that I am a great player too.”

Men players generally keep going at a high level to about 32, 33. I know you’ve already retired from the Czech international team because of some previous injuries. How long do you think you can keep playing?

“I don’t know how much longer I can keep playing football. It depends how satisfied I will be at Los Angeles Sol. Right now I’m very excited that I’m going overseas and I’m looking forward to starting to play there.

“I think if I will be happy there, I could stay a long time. Right now I don’t have any plans for my future…how long I want to keep playing. It depends how satisfied I am.”