With the 2018 season fast approaching, we’re continuing to take a look at each of the countries in our AFL Europe community to get a snapshot of how Aussie Rules kicked off in their nation, some of their highlights, and some of their goals for 2018. Next up are Sweden, who have a rich history in footy and are looking to continue their growth in 2018. We got the inside word from AFL Sweden President Ryan Tucker.
History of AFL in Sweden:
Footy has been around in Sweden since 1993 when a few likeminded people in southern Sweden, including Terry Lundqvist, founded the Helsingborg Saints to play in the DAFL (Danish League). In 2002 Helsingborg was split into 3 new teams comprising of the Port Malmö Maulers, Helsingborg West Raptors and the Lund Magpies. After 2005, the three Scania teams became feeders for the South Sweden Saints (changed name back to Helsingborg Saints in 2008), who competed in the DAFL Premier League and reached the 2005 Grand Final. Port Malmö and Helsingborg continue to compete in the Danish league today.
In 2003, the movement in Stockholm became organised and a team named Stockholm Dynamite was created. Shortly thereafter a Stockholm league was created consisting of Stockholm north and Stockholm south. Over the years the Stockholm league has continued to grow and at its peak in 2015 consisted of 5 teams and over 100 players. The Stockholm Dynamite is now a representative team made up of players from the active Stockholm teams. A defining moment in the history of footy in Sweden was the creation of a women’s league in southern Sweden and the creation of a women’s national team. Since inception, the women’s national team have made great inroads in European tournaments taking home medals from almost every tournament they have attended.
Snapshot of AFL in Sweden currently:
Sweden currently has around 200 players spread out over 8 teams. Of those 8 teams, 4 play in the Stockholm league, 2 play in the Danish league and 2 play predominantly exhibition matches. Footy has existed in some form in Sweden since the 1990’s and has continued to grow to its current form today. Sweden has a men’s and women’s national team that has competed at various European and International tournaments.
The current active clubs in Sweden are: Helsingborg Saints, Port Malmö Maulers+Lynx, Gothenburg Beserkers, Eksjö Bulldogs, Norrtälje Dockers, Solna Axemen, Södermalm Blues, Årsta Swans.
Highlights from AFL in Sweden in 2017:
2017 was a great year for the Swedish representative teams. 2 clubs and 3 teams competed at the Champions League in Amsterdam, whilst both the men and women’s national teams competed at the Euro Cup in Bordeaux, with the women’s team coming home with the bronze medal.
Goals for 2018:
The expansion of women’s football in Sweden and especially in Stockholm is a major goal in 2018. Both the men and women’s national teams will look to improve on their 2017 euro cup campaigns.
Player to watch:
Stina Nylinder joined Port Malmö Lynx in 2015 and has had an interesting Aussie rules journey so far. She rode her bicycle from Malmö in Sweden to Umag in Croatia for the Ravens first Euro Cup and in the process damaged her knee, but soldiered on anyway and played the tournament. She started her career in the forward line but has now developed into an amazing backline player and can even have a run in the middle. She was the first of two women to join the committee at her club in 2016 and is still there now in an important role. In general, she is an amazing human, a pleasure to coach and an important part of her team and club.