For the love of the game: 1,120 miles a week just to play football

by Anna Forss

Would you travel over 1,000 miles every week just to play a game of football? That’s what two 14-year-olds, Jack Aspenfjäll and Gustav Nordberg-Risto, do. They play for Sweden’s Stockholm Mean Machines Under 15 team, and every weekend they make the 1,120 mile round trip from their homes in the town of  Luleå in the far north of Sweden down to Stockholm just to play football.

For the love of the game.

Anyone who has been watching the Mean Machines U15 team closely during the season this year would have maybe noticed two navy blue helmets among the sea of silver-colored head gear.

Those two are Jack and Gustav, and during the season, they travel back and forth from Luleå, located 560 miles north of Stockholm, to play with the Mean Machines. Normally, they usually play for their hometown team, the Luleå Eskimos. but this year there were no games in the U15 category since the club could not find any opponents.

This past summer, the two clubs were in contact with each other and four players from Luleå joined the Mean Machines to play in the Dukes Tourney. At that time, the teams began discussing the chance for the players  to play in the Stockholm’s regular season games.The teams came to an agreement and after getting the approval of the competition committee, the players were granted permission to switch teams on a temporary basis.

In addition to the travel challenges involved, the Luleå Eskimos have also begun practicing using the same playbook to better prepare the players for games with the Mean Machines,  but they have also had to spend a lot of extra time studying the playbook.

 

Anna Forss, one of U15 team managers:

“It’s really unbelievable how ambitious these guys and their families are. We at the Stockholm Mean Machines really want the sport to grow throughout the country and we have to find ways so that  players who belong to smaller teams get more playing time. It is so much fun to see how talented both Gustav and Jack are and that they are such great teammates too. We are very happy that they both wanted to play with us this season and we hope we have been able to contribute a little to building more teams in northern Sweden.”

Read the original article from the Stockholm Mean Machines website in Swedish here.

Photos: Stefan Akander

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