WHAT always promised to be a remarkable footballing journey has proved to be even more momentous for former Hibernian defender Cailin Michie. The 22-year-old joined a club which sits just one degree south of the Arctic Circle when she signed for 2018 Swedish champions Pitea IF in December.

Remarkably, Michie's new team have continued to train and play while most of the rest of Europe is in football shut-down. That's because the Swedish Federation continues to sanction friendly matches, even if the Damallsvenskan itself is in abeyance.

Unlike the rest of Scandinavia, and much of Europe, Sweden is not – so far at least – in lockdown. It is an outlier stance by their government, and time will judge whether it has been a judicious one.

There was, however, no indication of how hugely Covid-19 would impact the continent when Michie travelled to Pitea for signing talks. The club was already satisfied that she was a specialist, two-footed full-back who fitted their criteria, but wanted to know more about her as a person. Both parties were happy with what transpired and Michie became one of a number of players to leave Hibs in the winter.

“When they told me it was in Sweden I didn't realise how far north it would be,” the player confesses. “There's still a lot of snow. People walk and drive on the lakes and rivers. The lowest temperature since I arrived was minus 20, but they say it's a warmer winter than normal.

“It's a very different cold – crisper and not biting like you get with a wind. With a good jacket I prefer it to the rainy and grey days you get in Edinburgh sometimes.”

An air dome with a full-sized artificial pitch provided indoor training and game facilities at the start of the year, while the outdoor pitch is now available thanks to its heating system. Pitea's population is only 23,350, and is a vast distance from the other 11 top-flight Swedish teams, yet despite these apparent hurdles the club pays its players and coaches thanks to superb local backing.

“The club a big part of the community and you've got a really professional set-up with the facilities,” Michie says. “Pitea's history of doing well in the league made it a really great step up for me. They care for their players, and made me feel like I could be part of the club.

“We train in the morning and then most of the squad do part-time work before another training session later in the day. We have a sponsorship pool whereby players are paid to go into old people's homes to keep them company, although obviously we've had to stop that recently. We all feel like professional athletes who also have something else to do during the day.”

Michie made her competitive debut in a 4-0 Swedish Cup win at home against Uppsala, playing from the start in the left-back position Pitea envisage her filling. That was on February 23, but proved to be her only competitive game to date.

The second should have been another cup game against Mallbackens, a club which in the past has given opportunities to several Scottish players. It didn't go according to plan.

“We flew to Stockholm and then took a three-and-a-half hour bus journey from there – only to be told on the journey that the Swedish Federation had decided to cancel all competitive games,” Michie says. “We turned right round.”

Taking planes to games is something the former Scotland U19 player will get used to once the season resumes. Rosengard, who replaced Pitea as champions last season and have Scotland winger Fiona Brown in their squad, are some 900 miles south in Malmo.

“We fly to every away league game apart from one,” Michie says. “Umea is referred to as the 'derby' match and is just over three hours on the bus. The league compensate us for being so far away and help out with the travel.”

Pitea attract four figure crowds for their home games, get a lot of sponsorship, and the government is likely to help all clubs get through the coronavirus crisis. An illustration of the tremendous community support was provided when more than 700 fans bought tickets for last Sunday's scheduled Swedish Cup game against Orebro despite knowing full well it had long been postponed.

Michie hopes that when competitive football does resume it will give her a platform to catch the eye of Shelley Kerr. She will also, from afar, attempt to complete the final year of her Edinburgh University politics degree by submitting a dissertation and completing two final modules. Life in Sweden just now may provide added inspiration.