Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Mon, Jan 19th, 2015

Somalia does a “Cool Runnings” – a successful integration project in Borlänge

It’s ten degrees below zero as we step out of the car at Tunets Sports Stadium in Borlänge. Despite the cold one can feel the warmth and joy from the bandy field where about 20 Somali guys are playing. They play for the fun of it and because they can now label themselves as the national team of Somalia – in bandy.

The team is certainly popular. During the past year, they were accompanied by Filip and Fredrik and their film crew and on January 28 is the premiere of “Trevligt Folk” at the Gothenburg Film Festival. It’s a film about the somewhat eccentric story of an integration project that produced a national team in bandy. Apart from the premiere, yet another Bandy World Cup awaits the team in February.

– They had only been skating for about four months and played two friendlies altogether before last year’s Bandy World Cup, so we have good faith in playing much smoother and better matches this year, says Cia Embretsen, 31.

Cia has been involved since the start of the project which was meant as a pure integration program in Borlänge, one of several Swedish towns that receives among the highest number of refugees. Along with Pelle Forsshaug – one of the best Swedish bandy players of all times – she is responsible for the trainings and team planning.

somaliskalandslaget1_s

– We ought to have 19 players at the Bandy World Cup, she continues. We’ve had many new players train with us this year and we’ve added six of them to our squad, including a guy from Canada. Everyone gets to participate in the training sessions as this is a continuing integration project. What matters the most is that we’re having good time together, although not everyone may join the team in the Bandy World Cup.

 The goal is to take place in ordinary activities

The team doesn’t belong in a league but in Borlänge Bandy, although they don’t play any matches as it is an integration project. Their goal is to play in the regular club of Borlänge Bandy and the team has four players that have already managed to advance to the series.

– The bandy matches are not the most important. In the beginning, they they were busy learning to skate, Cia says.

She was raised in Leksand where she began figure skating at the age of eight until she graduated from high school. She was then admitted to the sports coaching programme at Dalarna University College.

– My knowledge about figure skating often comes in handy.

Three matches before the World Cup   

As a layman, one doesn’t notice that these guys could barely skate about a year ago. All of them are now quite proficient with how they use the club and the ball as well as how they move on the ice. Until the Bandy World Cup, they’re also supposed to play a few more matches than last year.

– Yes, before last year’s World Cup, we played two matches. When we came back home, the guys had already played more World Cup matches than ordinary ones, says the team doctor Andreas Westergren, who’s also present at the field this cold Friday evening. This year it will be three matches.

somaliskalandslaget5_s

That, and much more skating, makes them hopeful of delivering better matches than last year where they slipped behind.

– Halfway through the last match we were losing 2-1, yet we thought that we could keep up but we didn’t.

The Bandy World Cup is played in two groups were group B is of a lower rank.

– Group B consists of amateurs, just like us, says Pelle Forsshaug. Group A is much tougher and includes Finland, Sweden and Russia. The difference between us and other B groups is that they’ve been playing since they were young, perhaps since the age of 20 or 30.

The team members collaborate in raising funds by guarding parking lots and participating in other events. Besides, they have quite a few sponsors, both in terms of businesses as well as individuals all of which are necessary as it is rather costly to attend the Bandy World Cup.

– It’s a bit strange. When pitching sponsors one encounters businesses that have never heard of us although we’ve received a lot of media coverage.

 Premiere at the Gothenburg Film Festival

And then there’s the film. Thanks to a short notice in Aftonbladet, the duo Filip and Fredrik accompanied the team so as to create a film about their past year. The film is now ready and will premiere at the Gothenburg Film Festival next week. The premiere comes almost exactly one year since the team attended the Bandy World Cup as the first ever bandy team to represent Africa and almost exactly one year prior to the Bandy World Championship which is to be held in Russia.

That, if nothing else, is Sweden’s and Somalia’s equivalent to Cool Runnings – the Jamaican team that managed to get to the Olympics.

 

 

About the Author

- Chefredaktör för MENA Tidningen.se / Editor in Chief of MENA Tidningen.se

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