In their first year participating, the Finnish embassy staff members lived up to their country’s stellar ice hockey reputation, besting teams fielded by the US, Russian, and Canadian embassies, as well as a team representing the Swedish foreign ministry.
The tournament, held at the Danske Bank Hallen on the island of Lidindgö near Stockholm, featured a series of friendly, round-robin style ice hockey matches.
After beating every one of its competitors of the afternoon, Finland was left to face reigning Diplomatic Cup champion Sweden, who beat Canada for the Cup last year.
Finland ultimately wiped the ice with its Nordic neighbor, handily winning this year’s Diplomatic Cup with a score of 4-0.
“Of course, it’s a great experience [to win],” a beaming Finnish Chargé d’affaires Juha Markkanen told The Local after the tournament.
“The final was fun, but I’d like to underline that all the teams were great in my mind.”
North American neighbours the United States and Canada played for the bronze, with Canada taking third place in the Cup in a decisive 4-0 win.
Russia, which lost in every match of the tournament, was unable to play for a medal and came in fifth.
Though his nation didn’t compete for the Cup, Czech Ambassador to Sweden Jan Kára also contributed to the tournament as a volunteer referee.
The Stockholm Diplomatic Cup was held for the first time last year following an initiative by Canadian Ambassador to Sweden Alexandra Volkoff, who wanted to organise a sports event in light of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
According to Volkoff, the hockey tournament serves as an opportunity for different members of the international foreign service community in Stockholm to interact in a less typical setting.
“It’s a way of meeting people in a different way…sometimes it’s the economic counselor with the driver or the ambassador with the military attaché,” said Volkoff.
“Everybody is here and they’re having fun and it’s not the position that counts– they’re all unified by hockey. It’s just fun to be able to do it and I think that games like this have always brought people together.”
Chris Dunnett, counselor for public affairs at the US embassy in Stockholm, echoed Volkoff’s statements, describing the cup as an alternative way to do diplomacy.
According to Dunnett, the tournament was a way of “getting to know people on a different level than in the office.”
“Of course, the most important thing is to have fun,” said Markkanen.
“But also, a nice, good game is important. Finland is well known as an ice hockey country like the US and Canada, Russia, Sweden too. So, it was fun to have this opportunity to play not as professionals, but as amateurs in this tournament.”
By Anita Badejo