Goodbye Salford, Hej Sverige!

I’ve been to Sweden once before, on my first ever tour with the Australian team in 1997 as a 15 year old.  We drew 1-1 with Sweden in Ostersund thanks to my footballing hero and great friend, Julie Murray.

I remember thinking just how beautiful the landscape was and knowing that I wanted to return one day for a better look.

Football has afforded me so many things and travel is one that I will never take for granted.

So off we go to Gothenburg to cover the Women’s Euro 2013 semi-final between the hosts, Sweden, and seven time winners (who have since made it eight), Germany.

Eesh at Sweden's semi-final with Germany

Eesh at Sweden’s semi-final with Germany

Cue delayed plane……..1 hour

Cue delayed plane………2 hours

Cue delayed plane………3 hours

What was it I was saying about not taking travel for granted? I hate airports. That is all.

My first impression of Gothenburg was exciting, I saw a moose just chillin’ on the side of the road on the way out of the airport. It’s no kangaroo bouncing through our training session or crazy ducks chasing us at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra but I get excited about seeing any wildlife (well except the wildlife that my very un-athletic dog has caught or I’ve accidentally run over in my car….I swear I’m an animal lover!).

The atmosphere at the Sweden v Germany semi-final was electric. It was a sea of yellow jerseys and was jam-packed full of parents with their kids. This is what I loved seeing the most at the Euros, the inclusive nature of the tournament and unwavering support of football by the country.

The question is how we get parents to take their children to WSL games in England.  Crowds (or lack thereof) are a constant topic of discussion and I believe they are the key to the overall development of the women’s game. Cue possible topic for next blog…..

Ready for the final

Ready for the final

Unfortunately the fairytale ending wasn’t to be for Sweden. In what was by far the most entertaining game of the tournament, Germany defeated the hosts 1-0.

Shout out time.

I’ve been living in London for 18 months now and people who know me understand how excited I get when I can hang out with familiar faces. So it was A-MAZ-ING to see Danielle Warby (social media genius from The Women’s Game), Lydia Williams (Aussie GK & all-round awesome chick) & Tommy Sermanni (crossword addict & Premier League Card President & reigning champion) and Priscilla Duncan (former NZ international & now working at FIFA ) in Sweden.

With Priscilla Duncan & Danielle Warby of @TheWomensGame

With Priscilla Duncan & Danielle Warby of @TheWomensGame

Dan was my official beer drinking partner, Lyds took two flights from Pitea to see us for one night, Tommy was just swanning around talking to a million people as usual (the man knows everyone, I’m convinced of that) & Priscilla had popped over from Zurich for a weekend in Stockholm (tough life for some).

Stockholm is a beautiful city made slightly less enjoyable by the astronomical prices of……everything. I guess that’s a sign of a healthy economy but meant I left Sweden with a very unhealthy bank balance.

So, on to the final. Germany (again) v Norway. Early predictions were for German domination but how wrong they were. Norway went against their usual game plan of sitting back, frustrating the opposition and looking to quickly counter attack to having a real go at the Germans.

Unfortunately for Norway they had two penalties saved and ended up losing 1-0.

Bothering guards...

Bothering guards…

I left Sweden thinking that women’s football is in a strong position for future growth and development. The overall standard is rapidly improving and the support of the Euros by the fans and media coverage was brilliant.

I was proud to be involved in the BBC coverage because all of our crew were enthusiastic, supportive and driven to make the production a success. Which I think we achieved.

Here’s a few highlights from the 3 weeks:

–  Trying to stop Leandra Little from stealing every bike she saw while we (Sue, Faye, Leandra & I) were walking around Stockholm. (Ok so Lea wasn’t technically trying to steal bikes, she just assumed every bike parked on the street was for hire).

–  Getting yelled at by the Guard at the Stockholm Royal Palace to get out of his FIFA Technical Area (see photo right).

Worshipping golden cows

Worshipping golden cows

–  Having a very productive “meeting” with Danielle Warby (The Women’s Game – Aus) & Jen O’Neill (She Kicks) over free beer in the media room in Norrkoping followed by a lovely stroll back to our hotels via an interesting sculpture that appeared to be worshipping a golden cow (see photo).

So all in all, a fun trip and I look forward to the next one.

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