Awak Kuier made a tough decision and was surprised by the reactions – “Nice to see that you can talk about mental health” | Sport

Awak Kuier made a tough decision and was surprised by

Venice, Italy.

– To be honest, it feels good, he says Awak Kuier.

This is how the Finnish basketball star answers the question about how he feels about the decision to skip the world’s toughest basketball league, the US WNBA, this year.

– You start to feel a lot of fatigue in your body. The seats are stuck. When I come home from training, I’m sometimes so exhausted that I just have to go to sleep and on my days off I can’t do the nice things I usually do.

– Even in the main cabin I feel like I need a break, Kuier tells in an interview in the back room of the Palasport Taliercio sports arena in Venice.

It’s no wonder that Kuieri gets tired.

The 22-year-old basketball player has been playing at a high level for almost four years straight without any breaks. Four seasons in the Italian Serie A, from which the trip took three years to the American professional league WNBA, Dallas Wings. In addition, Kuier has played in the Finnish national team.

The US series changed its rules last year so that players must be involved from the first training camps. They start so early in the spring that Kuier would not have had time to finish the season in Italy.

In the end, it made the decision clear.

Now Kuier says that he would have missed the season even if there had been no rule change. He admits that he already thought about taking a break last year. Well-being and the fact that there is more to life than basketball is so important to him.

– I feel like seeing friends and family more. It’s really important to me to be able to enjoy life anyway. You don’t just train and train.

The star of the tough Venetian team

Kuier is the first Finnish female player who has been able to play in the American professional league, i.e. WNBA. In addition to that, he has played four seasons in the Italian main league Serie A: first two years in Sicilian Ragusa and the second two in the Venetian team Reyer Venezia Mestre.

The level is tougher in Venice than in Ragusa. Reyer took first place in the regular season of Serie A, the country’s first division, and advanced to the semi-finals of the Eurocup this year. Kuieri plays an important role in the team: he has received a lot of playing time and has been a scoring cannon in many games.

Also, when talking with the club’s staff, it becomes clear that Kuier is one of the team’s star players – the kind of investment that Venice is happy with. The local fans also like him, and the image of the 194-centimeter Kuieri is handsome on the club’s advertising banners all the way to the Venice airport.

Kuier says that he likes the Italian coaching culture.

– I have improved a lot, there is a suitable challenge in training and games. Has been allowed to play hard.

Like Kuier, many of the team’s players have been involved for at least two years. It has created a close community spirit. It can be seen in training as well: the atmosphere among the players is friendly and the ball flies.

– Everyone is very familiar and we are very close. It’s always nice to come to training when you know everyone. Even in our free time, we are together, hang out at home, go for a walk in Venice and eat out.

Mestre, where the team’s home hall is located, is a part of Venice on the mainland side. The contract with the club includes a Fiat car and living in Mestre.

“It would be nice to see other places”

Kuier has been one of the young promises of Finnish elite sports, and high expectations have been placed on him.

He says that he does not stress about them, but accepts them positively.

– It’s great to be in a position where a lot is expected of me. Since I also expect a lot from myself, it’s just nice.

Kuier is also satisfied with how understandingly the outside world reacted to his decision to take a break from basketball.

– It was nice to notice that you can talk about mental health and fatigue and you don’t have to be afraid that there will be some negative answers. Many people have posted that it’s great when you can set a limit and rest if you need it.

Kuier is grateful that he has been able to play and develop both in Europe and the United States during the intense years. The contract with the Venice team expires this spring, and there is no information about the extension yet.

Although Kuier says that he had a great time in Italy, he would also like to see other places.

– My dream has been that I get to play basketball in different places and see different cities.

Even in his free time, Kuier likes to travel and see the world. He would gladly do more of that if he had time. In the coming summer, he plans to recover and take a week off from basketball completely.

– On the other hand, I’m also looking forward to finally having time to really develop my skills. And get better.

“Euroleague as a dream”

Kuier admits that playing in Europe is his priority at the moment.

– It comes from the fact that my dream is to play in the Euroleague. If I could get there to play, then I could consider going back to the WNBA, he thinks.

– I liked being there, but the only problem was that it was difficult to play in both.

So the break comes at a good time. After the season in Italy, Kuier plans to head to Finland to see his family, whom he has not seen for many months.

Before that, however, there are still important games ahead in the jersey of the Venice team. The championship would be the third in the team’s history.

It would be a great end to a good season.

– We have won a lot of games and it has been really nice, even though we lost the semi-finals of the EuroCup, sums up Kuier.

Then he grabs his teammate, his friend, under his arm Mariella Santucci and goes to his home a short drive away for lunch.