After hosting the ICC European Championship matches in Division 2 in Stockholm, Team Sweden managed to clinch second place in the group behind Germany. This means Sweden has earned the promotion to European Division 1 in the ICC World Cricket League.
“It’s an amazing feeling after the last match to secure Sweden’s promotion to the higher division, and to do it on home soil, in the middle of Stockholm”, says Azam Khalil, captain of Team Sweden. “All the support and the attention we have received throughout the tournament has been unbelievable.”
This was the first time Sweden hosted official outdoor championship matches in cricket. The European Division 2 matches were played on newly built pitches at Gärdet and Skarpnäck. Cricket is one of the fastest growing sports in Sweden with currently 54 teams playing around the country.
“Cricket is growing explosively in Sweden and it is a really multicultural sport, which unites people from different cultures. The inflow of new people from countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan has enriched Swedish cricket. This success is further proof of the momentum cricket has gained in Sweden and our position will continue to grow stronger”, says Shahzeb Choudhry, Chairman of the Swedish Cricket Federation.
During the championship tournament, we had the chance to attend a reception at the British Embassy. Players and officials from the competing cricket teams, as well as representatives from different Swedish sports instances and representatives from the Cricket Board were invited to the Ambassador’s residence in Stockholm.
We were all welcomed by Deputy Head of Mission in Sweden, Aidan Liddle, who conducted a speech and a toast as a representative of the Ambassador.
We had the opportunity to chat with some of the participants such as Marino Miskulin, Sports club developer at SISU Idrottsutbildarna, Swedish Sports Education Organisation. Miskulin talked about the importance of cricket in the Swedish society, as an activity that besides its basic sportive and entertaining functions, also promotes the integration of young immigrants. Cricket is a sport that many of them know from back home and provides them a means to meet people, learn about Sweden and practice the new language. ¨We don’t work with sport, we work with people¨. in the words of Miskulin.
Azam Khalil, captain of Team Sweden, gave us the chance to talk to him as well. He expressed his pleasure with the performance and results of his team. He also mentioned he was very happy to see how his efforts have been one by one materialising into successes and added: ¨This is really the best year of my life¨.
The Swedish team shows how well integrated it is when they’re playing. They have no frontfigures, they act and breathe as a whole team, as appreciated by Jessica Nilsson Williams, board member of Swedish Cricket Federation. Jessica Nilsson Williams, along with many other participants from the Swedish Cricket Federation, have been working hard for the past two years to develop the sport exponentially and take it to the place where it is right now. Nilsson Williams has in particular been involved in the growth of the female division as well. Getting the right funding is the difficult part, she says.