Signe is a 23-year-old forward for both Olympique Lyonnais and the Danish national team. This summer, she left Paris Saint-Germain after winning the French league title.
During preseason, Signe explained to us why she is participating in the study that will track the physical and mental wellbeing of more than 90 men and 60 women players.
The study aims to improve knowledge about the physiology of footballers during their careers, and the first years after they stop playing.
FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Prof. Vincent Gouttebarge is leading the research project, which is being co-funded by the Drake Foundation (England), healthcare company Mehilainen (Finland) and Push Sports (The Netherlands).
How did you find out about the Drake Study?
"Through the player union in Denmark, Spillerforeningen. We, the national team players, have a close relationship with them. When I was there, they asked if I and some other players were interested. It sounded exciting and I thought Why not? To help myself, but also to contribute to the women’s game in the future. To help the small girls who are coming after me. Even if it helps just a few girls, then I am already happy. It is a good project and good for women’s football too."
What do you have to do during this study?
"I have done four different questionnaires and some tests that check your reactions and memory. You have to answer questions about your health, recent injuries and your mental health. There were also questions about dieting. It is really broad, there are a lot of subjects."
"It doesn’t take a lot of time, and sometimes it is also good to sit down and take time to think about how you are really doing."
"In the beginning it took about 30 minutes. Now it is less, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Some tests took about an hour, but I actually enjoyed doing them. They bring out the competitiveness, although you can only compete against yourself. You cannot compare your results with others."
How important is good health to you?
"I think the mental part is underrated in football. I have had a mental coach for four years now. For me it is important to feel good on and off the pitch. If I am feeling good off the pitch, then I am also feeling good on it. The mental part, together with sleep and nutrition are really important: they are affecting what I do on the pitch."
"I always look at the big picture: Where can I improve? Performing on a high level is all about details: if I can gain one percent here and one percent there, that is going to determine whether I win or not."
"My first talks with my mental coach were really, really positive. I quickly noticed the difference on the pitch, which, to me, confirmed that I could benefit from it."
"We work on many different things. For example, I have just switched clubs, so right now it is about how to adapt in a new club, be part of a new team and integrate as much as possible."
"Earlier we also spoke about how to prepare for big games. How do I play on the pitch? In what situations do I want to put myself in to be the best version of myself in the game? What is my plan B in case I make a mistake?"
Have you had any health issues?
"I had a torn anterior cruciate ligament, two years ago. I didn’t play a game for eight-and-a-halve months."
"For me it was about setting small goals: walking without crutches for the first time, running for the first time, small goals, so I could see my improvement. But the first weeks were terrible. I was like a ghost, because of the pain after the surgery."
"You also think Now I’ve lost a half year, I also could have improved in that half year. I noticed that those thoughts made it worse for me, so I tried to keep them away and focus on my recovery. The other stuff can drive you crazy."
"I came back stronger than before, both physically and mentally. I think I also played better football after. It is all connected."
How is the medical care you have experienced at your clubs?
"Paris and Lyon are the same. There are physios every day at both clubs. You can get treatment every day. They have a doctors. It is perfect. You have everything you need."
"In Denmark, where I played for Fortuna Hjørring, the league is not fully professional, and you can see that in the medical staff. We had a physio, but he was not there every day. However, it was four years ago since I was there. So I think it is better now. Hjørring was one of the better teams in Denmark, but it is unfair to compare them with Paris and Lyon, which are two of the best teams in the world."