Jackie Groenen and Lotta Okvist before a Manchester United Women training session.

At home with Lotta Okvist

The latest in our series of chats to check in with the United Women squad takes us to northern Sweden, where the Reds’ full-back has been out in the snow every day to maintain her fitness… while giving her mum more than a helping hand around the house!

Hi Lotta. How’s life with you?
I’m good, thanks. I’m back in Pitea in northern Sweden [where Lotta grew up]. All my family live here, and I’m staying at my mum’s house, with my boyfriend here also. My dad and brother live nearby also. I’m so happy that I travelled back here before the lockdown in the UK.

It was only a few weeks ago when you made your Sweden debut, of course. Congratulations on that.
Thanks, I was really happy to get my first senior call-up and I enjoyed it [Lotta played 87 minutes of Sweden’s 2-1 defeat to Denmark in the Algarve Cup]. I went back [to Manchester] after that game, had two sessions, then I returned to Sweden, and I’ve been here since.


We understand there’s no lockdown in place where you are…
There’s not, everything is still open. In Stockholm there are more cases of coronavirus but here up in the north it’s almost as normal. My mum and dad are still at work and the local kids are all still at school.

Have you been going out much?
No, I haven’t. I’ve been trying to avoid public places, but it’s still okay to see family and friends and I go out and buy groceries when we need them, but I haven’t been into town. I try to avoid people as much as I can.
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Do you have much open space around you?
Yeah, we have a big garden here, but it’s full with snow so we can’t do too much in it! We live by the water so there’s ice on the ocean – we can go skiing or ice-skating on it if we want to. There’s also a football pitch in town with heating underneath it, so we play on there sometimes.

Is it your boyfriend that you’re playing football with?
Yes, and I’m really happy that he's here with me. He’s doing all the running sessions with me, and really pushing me. It’s pre-season for him already – he just joined a team back in Manchester, a Sunday league team, but he can’t finish the season, so now he’s training with me in Sweden!

Talk us through your daily routine…
I wake up early, I’m a morning person, then I’ll drive mum to work. After that I have a programme from the club that I have to follow to stay fit, so I do that first, with running in the morning. I’ll then come back for breakfast with my boyfriend, who is working from here during the daytime, then I’ll do my other session after lunch, plus some gym work, which I try to do here at home, to avoid being around other people. After that, I’ll hang out – I cook a lot, clean around mum’s house. It’s been really good weather as well so I might go out for a walk, or maybe out on the ice also for some skiing.

Is there usually this much snow there at this time of year?
There’s usually more snow, but there’s still a lot now. It gets dark around 6pm at this time of year, so it’s not too different from the UK with the daylight.
Can you share any tips for readers wanting to stay fit right now?
Just that it’s really important to stay active during this difficult time, as much for our mental health as anything. Just going out for some fresh air once a day can make a big difference. My advice would be to write down a plan for every day when you get up, so you have a plan for what you’re going to do, and maybe write down times as well, so you have a plan on when to do exercises. I find days easier when I have a schedule. You can do so much with your body; a lot of exercises are easy to find online. Take whatever [equipment] you have in the garden or kitchen –wherever! – to help you if you need it.  

Talking of the kitchen, have you been inspired to cook up any new meals?
Not really. I enjoy cooking so I do a lot for the family – chicken and salmon, that kind of stuff. It’s payback time for my mum after everything she’s done for me my whole life. Cooking and cleaning!

Sounds like you’re keeping busy. Do you have any other hobbies to stay entertained?
My days have been pretty full so I haven’t had much time to do other things. I should practise my English more but I haven’t done that yet.

Your English sounds very good to us. How do you like to relax then? 
When it’s nice weather, I like to sit out and drink a coffee in the sun, and do a crossword. That’s relaxing for me. I'm not a big fan of watching TV.
Lotta Okvist
Lotta has made six appearances for the Reds since signing from Hammarby last summer.
No TV at all?  
I do have Netflix, but one bit of TV each day is enough for me. I’ve been watching The Stranger – I enjoy that. I’ve also watched Love Is Blind – it’s a bit weird, but funny.

What apps do you use most regularly to stay in touch with people?
Probably Instagram and Snapchat are my most used. There are so many ways to stay connected, though, and it’s great to see what the [United] girls are up to when we do video calls on Tuesday and Friday. We all talk a lot on WhatsApp too. It’s important to stay in touch to help each other during this time.

Apart from the obvious, what are missing from your life back in Manchester?
Just the obvious – playing football! I don't miss the weather, although I did hear it was very nice last week.

It certainly was, although there’s no skiing round these parts! What would you like to say to the United fans?
It’s obviously looking like a long time without football and we all miss it – us as much as you – but right now health is the most important thing, so stay home, stay safe, and hopefully we’ll all be back to enjoy the end of the season more than ever.

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