Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight.
A veteran of the game is an understatement for Lars ‘Larry’ Hagberg, who has now been playing Australian football in Europe for 17 years.
Studying in the AFL capital of the world, Melbourne, in 1994, Larry was surrounded by the sport and was mesmerised by it.
“It’s the most exciting sport to watch and play, period. It’s fast, physical and requires a lot of skill. I like that it combines the full contact part with speed and athleticism. Anyone can play as long as you have an eye for the game. And there’s always been great camaraderie in the sport.”
After studying and moving to Denmark, Larry was excited to find out that Denmark had a thriving AFL league and immediately wanted to get involved.
Playing for the Copenhagen Crocodiles, in the DAFL, he started to build his career, feeling great to be be able to play the game that he fell in love with in Melbourne.
Later moving to Sweden, he didn’t want to lose this passion and joined the Södermalm Blues in Stockholm, where he still plays today.
Building his standard of play each year, Larry has been able to represent his country at two International Cups in Melbourne, Australia.
“The two International Cups I’ve played in Australia with the Swedish Elks are definitely my highlights. Such fantastic trips and it’s amazing to meet players from around the world, as well as seeing the genuine interest in footy from overseas.”
Playing against the best players and teams in all of Europe, definitely builds experience and skill level, this experience has helped Larry to be at his best and at the standard he wants to be as a football player.
“I’d have to say my stamina and work in and under contests are my strengths. Being able to run all day and not being afraid to put my body on the line and take a hit.”
Not only having the skills of the game now, Larry has been a major factor into where AFL in Sweden is at today and has helped his side the Södermalm Blues from the beginning.
“One of the most rewarding moments was playing the first game at the footy oval we setup ourselves as a club. We acquired a set of flag poles to be used a posts and had a working bee cementing them into the ground. With the aid of AFL Europe we got goal post pads which completed our 15 a-side footy oval with permanent goals and proper markings. Needless to say we had a great time and winning the inaugural game felt even sweeter.”
With the upcoming Euro Cup is being held in Sweden, Larry and his team in Södermalm have gone a long way to highlighting Sweden on the AFL map and become a prime spot for the upcoming event.
With an already stellar career, countless memories and a vested interest in the growth of the game, Lars Hagberg is the epitome of what AFL Europe stands for.
Liam McAllion – AFL Europe
Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe