On June 30th our goalkeeper Klavs Lauva turned 18 – he took care of the best gift himself as he passed his driving exam in order to get his driver’s license. It was unlikely that he could have imagined that just ten days later he would experience something even more significant – the brightest moment of his football career to date – his debut with Valmiera FC at the Latvian Cup ⅛ finals showing an impressive perfomance in goal, turning away opposing teams 11-meter penalty and helping his team to evict the opponents from the competition while playing shorthanded.
‘’I started playing when I was six years old. At the beginning just like any other player I ran around the pitch, then later on I took the opportunity to train as a goalkeeper. Then I once again returned to the pitch as an ordinary player. As time went on I realized that I like to make saves, to stop the ball and so I decided that I will go back to that and continue doing it in the future.
My first club was Metalurgs Liepaja, first years I spent there later joined Liepaja Football School after which I spent a year in Jelgava before arriving here – in Valmiera. I can definitely call Jelgava my stepping stone as with them I got my first experience in football playing with adults whilst getting in a few matches in the first league. That is how my grown-up football story began.
After the season in Jelgava, things fell in place and I received an offer from Valmiera FC and that is where I went. I’m very glad that I made this decision, it’s very nice here. The team spirit, awesome team personnel – everything is at the highest level and I have nothing to complain about. Our first goalkeeper Rihards Matrevics also helps me a lot, it’s very soothing to train with such players. In the whole group, I feel accepted, as a part of the team.
What kind of a goalkeeper am I? It is very hard to characterize myself. I like to play high, I like to use my feet. I’m not very inclined to go out to play the ball.
I really didn’t expect such a debut. I sat down, ready to watch the game. Everything felt calm and then in a blink of an eye, everything changed, tension started. The first thing that I thought of was that I had to start tying my football shoes and get dressed, something had to be done.
Instantly on the bench I received support from teammates, captain Raimonds Krollis stepped up to support me emotionally, he joked so that I wouldn’t be stepping on the pitch and freaking out with my legs shaking. We laughed together. But still, I couldn’t think of what is going to happen, what was next. The first thought that I had was how to get dressed as fast as possible and how to get to the pitch, how to play the game so that I wouldn’t disappoint the team. The guys helped me massively to take care of everything.
Obviously, our head coach Jurgis Kalns came up asking me to make the save on that penalty, which the referee had awarded after Matrevics got the red card. If I made the save the team could stay in the game and potentially fight for the victory. I received tactical pointers on how and where the game could go. There was no shortage of advice about the penalty either – I heard that if the player would kick with his left leg, I had to jump to my left, and if he would kick with his right, I would have to go to my right. Of course, I listened and did exactly as I was told. Everything turned out well.
Thank god the team hadn’t given up after the red card and together we managed to save the game. It was hard to predict what would happen because while being forced to be down a player everything changed tactically and things that we had previously prepared wouldn’t work. I really loved how the team fought to the end and we managed to get a 2:0 victory. For me it wasn’t that hard to play because our defenders played amazingly, they didn’t allow many shots and calm the opposing offense.
After this game I truly want to be in contention for the starting eleven, to get playing time more often. The bigger the internal competition the better we will compete against each other and grow as a team. It’s fine that we have a friendly relationship between the goalkeepers and that we aren’t enemies. We push each other forward so that we can develop better and create a more friendly rivalry. Rihards came up to me after the game and said thank you to me because he thought I managed to save the team in the situation. A huge bonus for me is our coach Sergejs Digulovs who isn’t a stranger to me, last year we worked together in Jelgava and I’m already used to him. We work tactically and pay attention to nuances that are giving us the results.’’