• Sweden's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3
Bandy: How Sweden's little known sport is winning fans
Swedish Somalis playing bandy in the town of Borlänge. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT

Bandy: How Sweden's little known sport is winning fans

AFP/The Local · 29 Feb 2016, 15:49

Published: 29 Feb 2016 15:49 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
It's a sort of field hockey on ice that's been played in Scandinavia for decades, but now the game of bandy is pressing to win a broader fan base – and international recognition.
 
A distant second favourite to the popular global winter sport ice hockey – of which it is thought to be an early ancestor – the high-tempo game involves two teams of 11 players on ice skates using hockey sticks to try to hit a ball into goals on a frozen pitch the size of a football field.
 
The sport – which is believed to have its origins in the the Middle Ages and gained brief popularity in England a hundred years ago – is mainly played in the Nordics. The first national bandy league was started in Sweden in 1902. The game is also popular in the Russian hinterland, where it is commonly known just as 'Russian hockey'. 
 
At the 2016 annual Bandy World Cup held earlier this month in provincial Russia, teams from as far a field as the United States, China, Germany and even, surprisingly, war-torn Somalia took part.
 
The team from Somalia is made of up of refugees from the country living in Sweden. It started as an integration project, initiated by team manager Patrik Andersson in 2014. He said he and his friends were out on a pub crawl when they began discussing how to work together on the challenges faced by Borlänge, an old industrial town 200 kilometres west of Stockholm.
 
Speaking to the AFP news agency last year, he said he thought creating bridges between coexisting cultures "would make Borlänge a good city to live in".
 
However the team was knocked out in 2015 as well as in this year's tournament, which was eventually won by the hosts – and favourites – Russia.
 
 

Members of Somalia's bandy team, who live in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT
 
Nevertheless Russian President Vladimir Putin – who often takes to the ice to play highly choreographed hockey games with his buddies before the state media – shone a rare spotlight on the sport by hosting the winning Russian team at his residence near Moscow.
 
"I'll give it a go. I've already learnt how to stand up on ice skates," joked Putin after one of the players asked him to try out bandy.
 
Veterans of the sport say that while its popularity may still be limited outside of the Nordics and Russia, there is plenty about the game that can get the fans excited.
 
"It's still unfamiliar with the public in many countries around the world but I'm positive that they will love it just after they have a chance to watch the action," Russian bandy great Mikhail Sveshnikov told AFP.
 
"It's a fast-paced and high scoring game and it's very hard not to fall in love with it."
 

President Vladimir Putin being given a bandy stick by Russian national player Yevgeny Ivanushkin in February. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/TT
 
But the game still seems to have a long way to go before the crowds come flocking.
 
On a recent evening only a handful of places were taken at a stadium just outside Moscow as local team Zorky took on Rodina from Kirov in central Russia.
 
"Unfortunately young people don't come to watch this game. I can't understand why," Zorky fan Maxim Bobrov told AFP.
 
Bobrov said that while bandy is more popular in its stronghold in the vast eastern region of Siberia it struggles to compete with other sports elsewhere.
 
"Maybe its because they don't have any alternative. But here we also have football and ice hockey."
 
That, however, has not stopped those in charge of the game here setting their sights high.
 
World bandy governing body (FIB) chief Boris Skrynnik said he is convinced the game can gain international popularity – and is currently pushing for it to be included at the Winter Olympics.
 
"I believe that bandy has the best chances among all of the winter sports to be included into the Olympic Games programme," Skrynnik told AFP.
 
With major Winter Olympic powerhouses such as Russia, the US, and China boasting teams, as well as Sweden and other Scandinavian nations, he says that should give the sport as good a chance as any of making it into the Beijing games in 2022.
 
"I don't see any serious obstacles that can prevent our game from becoming an Olympic sport."

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Today's headlines
Swedes give low marks to pupils' performance
A classroom in Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Less than a fourth believe that Swedish pupils learn what they need to in school, a new poll suggests.

My Swedish Career
'Hats off to the Swedish, I've learned a lot from them'
Miss Clara head chef Daniel Guest. Photo: AWB

The Local speaks to Daniel Guest, head chef at Stockholm's Hotel Miss Clara about working in Sweden, Swedish Christmas food, and why he has strong opinions on sugar.

Swedish Lucia advert sparks love and hate online
Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

An advert for Sweden’s Åhléns has unleashed a heated online debate after the department store chain unveiled a new campaign featuring a dark-skinned child, whose gender wasn’t obvious to all, dressed as a Lucia.

IKEA founder Kamprad suffers broken hip
Photo: Thord Nilsson / TT file picture

Ninety-year-old IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has suffered from a broken hip, which temporarily resulted in him being hospitalised, but is now in good recovery, his assistant said on Sunday. He may have to skip the traditional IKEA Christmas celebrations in his native Älmhult though.

What are Swedish values? Many Swedes are unsure
Photo: Erik Johansen / TT

Although perhaps one of the hottest potatoes in the Swedish political debate right now, many Swedes still find it hard to pinpoint exactly what Swedish values are, a new study shows.

Swedes protest cutbacks in personal assistance budget
Demonstrations were held in 25 towns and cities across Sweden on Saturday. Photo: Janerik Hansson / TT

Thousands of people staged demonstrations across Sweden on Saturday to protest recent cutbacks in the budget funding personal assistance for people with disabilities.

Police launch manhunt after deadly Stockholm shooting
No suspects have yet been arrested over the attack. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish police have launched a massive manhunt after masked gunmen barged into a Stockholm café and shot two people to death late on Friday.

Sweden has fourth happiest workers in the world: report
Is Swedish fika the secret? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden is home to the fourth happiest workers in the world, an international survey has claimed.

Here's how much Ikea staff are getting for Christmas
Christmas comes early for Ikea staff. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/NTB scanpix/TT

Staff at Ikea are getting an early Christmas treat in the form of millions of euros to share between them.

Sweden threatens action to stop Facebook 'hate and lies'
Should Facebook crack down on hate speech? Photo: AP Photo/dapd, Timur Emek

Sweden could impose legal obligations on Facebook as a last resort if the social network does not crack down on hate speech and fake news, the culture and democracy minister has threatened.

Sponsored Article
18 Stockholm innovations to keep an eye on
National
Final proof that Sweden has NOT banned Christmas lights
Sponsored Article
Smart songwriters: Sweden’s next big music export?
Travel
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's new myth-busting Viking museum
The Local Voices
Job market matchmaker hooks up 1,300 newcomers and Swedes
Blog updates

14 November

Hello darkness, my old friend (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I started thinking about November’s blog for The Local at the end of October, as the…" READ »

 

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so much talent from abroad
Gallery
People-watching: November 30th
Sponsored Article
Sweden to Hong Kong: The Local guide
National
This is how cold it's going to get in Sweden this week
Gallery
Property of the week: Skellefteå
National
Inside Sweden's perilous Sami reindeer pilgrimage
Sponsored Article
We visited 5 'murder spots' in Malmö
The Local Voices
'My name is Sami and I am a proud Swede - it hurts when people say I'm not Swedish'
Sponsored Article
Programmers' bootcamp: Change your life in 12 weeks
National
Swedish Advent 'less popular than Christmas Eve'
Gallery
People-watching: November 25th-27th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm startups are teaching kids to program
Swedish city to put all workers through LGBT course
Sponsored Article
Smart songwriters: Sweden’s next big music export?
National
The five weirdest attacks on Sweden's giant straw yule goat
Gallery
People-watching: November 23rd
Sponsored Article
'Learning to trade gave me the life I wanted'
The Local Voices
'Swedes are stylish: you need to dress well if you want to fit in'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: leading the way in clean energy innovation
National
Critics slam Swedish paper's Donald Trump cartoon as anti-Semitic
Sponsored Article
Michael Björklund: 'Being a chef is crazy work'
National
Men call Sweden's mansplaining hotline for mansplaining tips
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of New York
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
HIV in Sweden today is not like it was yesterday
Gallery
People-watching: November 18th-20th
Sponsored Article
Mette Helbæk: ‘We have a basic human need to connect'
Culture
Shooting starts on The Bridge 4
Sponsored Article
Terje Håkonsen: 'I try to make everything count'
Travel
Sweden's ten most beautiful places
Sponsored Article
Lina Thomsgård: 'I try to break down barriers every day'
The Local Voices
Having a Swedish girlfriend didn't help this Egyptian evade culture shock
Sponsored Article
'We wanted to turn ideas into action'
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
Culture
What the world of Harry Potter would look like... set in Sweden
National
Here's where Sweden's best non-native English speakers live
The Local Voices
This new book by a Syrian writer gives refugee children their own hero
Politics
Do Swedish polls underestimate support for Sweden Democrats?
3,496
jobs available