Contributed by: Aaron Richard Saturday, October 20 2007 @ 08:53 pm ACST
Swedish footy has seen big growth in the past few years, with new clubs springing up outside the traditional hot spots of Stockholm and Scania and the Swedish Elks improving strongly onfield - taking out this year's EU Cup[*1] .
However, the creation of a central governing body has proven elusive until now - partly due to the distances between clubs and leagues. A meeting held recently has seen the formation of the Svenska Australiensiska FotbollsLiga, with a seven-member committee - composed entirely of Swedes - drawn from all leagues and clubs in Sweden.
The president of the new SAFL is Jimmy Ljundgren from the Kalrstad Dragons. Ljundgren explains the structure was chosen to represent all clubs, not just those from Scania and Stockholm. The remaining six members are Joel Språng (Göteborg), Andreas Svensson (Landskrona), Petri Kalliomäki (Falun), Roger Nilsson (Helsingborg), Fredrik Arnstrup (Malmö) and Lars Hagberg (representing all three Stockholm clubs).
In addition, a panel of three coaches has been appointed to help manage and select the national team, being Australians Cameron Crooks (Falun), Damien McClaer (Scania) and Ryan Kingsley (Stockholm).
Sweden may also get a new regional league from the structure, with Karlstad and Falun keen to increase their opportunities for competitive hitouts. The two options currently being discussed would see the Dragons and Diggers either join with the Stockholm teams or with Göteborg, although nothing is so far set in stone.
New president Ljundgren is optimistic about the Elks' chances of making it to Melbourne. "There's currently more than enough interested players to make a squad. The situation right now is, as it is for many teams I guess, is financing the trip down. If we are to send our best players we would most likley be dependent on sponsorships otherwise we can only send players than can pay their own costs for the trip and stay in Australia. But the latest headcount of interested players implied that there has to be some kind of decision made by the three coaches and the committee who will be a part of the team."
"Seeing as the coaches can't be everywhere to check out the players in matches, training camps will be vital in the selection process. Curently a first training camp is beeing organized to take place in early December in Jönköping, being located as close to the middle of the Swedish teams as possible."
"Hopefully a increased interest in the sport would increase the chances of teams being formed in other cities. Another example of increasing interest is when Australian exchange sudents come to Sweden and start teams, such as the Uppsala Cardinals."