Kiss embraces Norwegian soccer experience
Kristina Kiss is a professional female soccer player.
There's only a handful of Canadian women who can make that claim.
For the past five months, the 22-year-old Kanata native has been playing, cashing cheques and appreciating some of the perks as a midfielder with Floya, an interesting women's team in Norway's top league.
While Kiss and Randee Hermus of Langley, B.C., are the first international players to sign pro contracts with Floya, a middle-of-the-pack club in the 10-team Top Series League, their teammates have other playing arrangements.
"Some other players are paid, some are compensated and some must pay to be on the team," said Kiss, who has returned home for a Canadian women's team friendly match against Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium on Sunday.
About 10,000 tickets have been sold for the prep game (7 p.m. kickoff) leading to the World Cup, which will be held in the United States Sept. 23 to Oct. 12.
While the salaries of pro hockey, baseball, football and basketball players are easily accessible in this open era of sports, Kiss is respectfully quiet about the numbers on her three-month contract.
Whatever the dollars, Kiss's contract also includes accommodations, a car, a cellphone and two airline tickets, which she used to fly in her sister and former W-League Ottawa Fury teammate Brigitte Bernier.
Kiss and Hermus caused a mild controversy in the Top Series League, when Floya head coach Jan Aksel used a league rule to sign international players to strengthen his team. After four years in the Norwegian first division, Floya was promoted to the Top Series this season. Aksel signed two Canadians, and one player each from England and Denmark.
"There have been little issues here and there with me moving overseas, but overall it has been a great experience," said Kiss, who has two goals and two assists in five games for Floya, which has a 4-6 record at midseason. "The team I'm on started something new, when it brought over international players.
"It was not liked by some of the teams, but some of the teams thought it was great. Some teams have players who claim they'll never come and play for Floya. They claim there's enough talent in Norway."
Floya contacted Canadian women's soccer team coach Even Pellerud, a native of Norway, seeking players. Pellerud offered the opportunity to several players, including Kiss, who had played the past three years with the Fury.
"I felt I needed a move because the Fury had become too familiar," said Kiss. "I wanted a change to a different style of soccer."
Floya, which is named after Mt. Floya, paid her expenses to attend a tryout last February in the island city of Troms÷, which has a population of 60,000. Troms÷ is Norway's northern-most city and the Gateway to the Arctic.
She impressed Aksel with her skills in training and during four exhibition games. This season, Kiss has given Floya stability in the midfield.
"I find the people are some of the nicest I have ever met," Kiss said. "They are a lot like our Newfoundlanders."
Kiss, who developed her skills as a youth playing for a variety of boys and girls teams in Ottawa, will speak with Pellerud about returning for 2004.
Her love of soccer started from the time she could walk. Back then she would kick around a ball with her soccer fanatic dad, Imre, and brother Steve.
While she admits never to being the fittest or fastest player on her teams, her exceptional touch or ball control attracted many local, provincial and national coaches.
"I never really thought I'd be on the national team," Kiss said. "I wasn't all that confident. I thought I'd grow out of soccer."
But her dad wouldn't let her.
"A lot of it has to do with how much my dad pushed me. Without that I wouldn't have tried as hard to improve my skills."
Kiss has only one item on her wish list: To make Canada's World Cup team as a starter.
Her ultimate goal is to play in the United States-based Women's United Soccer Association, which has many of the world's top players.
"Every player thinks of that. I'd love to play in it, but I need to improve my fitness, speed and strength. And they only allow four international players to a team."
great article about kiss!! glad to see the ottawa citizen doing some "hype" in buildup to next week's game...
Go Big Red!!
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