The Swedish Cricket Federation celebrates its 25th Anniversary, as well as being accepted as members of the Swedish Sports Confederation, with a special cricket match at Gärdet in Stockholm on Saturday the 22nd of August. The match pits Embassy staff from different cricket playing countries against Swedes, who have learned cricket in Sweden.
Cricket was established in Sweden in 1948, when Stockholm Cricket Club was formed by staff members of the British Embassy, with many players from the West Indies. Progress was; however, slow between 1948 and the 1970s. At the end of the 1970s quite a few new cricket clubs were formed. Pakistan Cricket Club was formed in 1978. The following year, Gothenburg Cricket Club and Mariestad Cricket Club were established.
The Swedish Cricket Federation (Svenska Cricketförbundet, SCF) was established in 1990. The driving force behind it was Guttsta Wicked Cricket Club. The following year the Swedish Cricket Championship (Allsvenskan i Cricket) was organised for the first time. The teams were divided into two groups, Allsvenskan Norra and Allsvenskan Södra. The Swedish Cricket Federation became a Member of the International Cricket Council, ICC in 1991.
The first two decades after the formation of SCF, only a handful of members were playing regular Cricket in the country. However, after SCF started receiving regular funding from ICC (International Cricket council) and the Swedish national team started participating in European tournaments, the level of interest in the game increased. The real growth happened in the last 5-6 years when club numbers increased from 12-14 to more than 40. In the last two years alone the number of clubs has doubled and the current player numbers stand around 3000.
This development probably makes Cricket the fastest growing sport in Sweden. In greater Stockholm area, there are 21 clubs playing regular Cricket across 3 Divisions of the Swedish national league. There are Youth Cricket tournaments all year around at U15, U17 and U19 levels. Sweden U17 boys’ team recently beat Norway U17s in a 3-match series.
This year SCF will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. This landmark year is coupled with Cricket’s recognition as an official sport by Riksidrottsförbundet (Swedish Sports Confederation).
Cricket became an official sport on 30th May, 2015 which is further evidence that Cricket is taking a hold in Sweden. We will be celebrating the hard work done by many who worked tirelessly to bring Cricket where it stands today, says Shahzeb Choudhry, Chairman of the Swedish Cricket Federation.
We have organised a combined Embassies team which will be led by Mr Aidan Liddle, Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy. Officials from Embassies of Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, and UK will be playing against a Swedish XI consisting of players who have learnt their Cricket during the last 25 years in Sweden. We are also expecting a large crowd of spectators who will be cheering both teams on 22nd of August on Gärdet Sportfält. Weather permitting, it will be the biggest Cricket event hosted by Swedish Cricket Federation ever, Shahzeb Choudhry explains.
For more information on the celebratory match, see the Facebook event.
How would someone interested in playing cricket go about getting started in Stockholm then?
They should get in touch with any of the local clubs. All clubs welcome new members with open arms and there are a lot of passionate Cricketers who would happily teach the game to anyone who is interested. SCF, with the help of ICC, organise many coaching courses and we have many clubs who have qualified coaches that can help teach the basics.
How do Swedish people in general feel about cricket? Do they have misconceptions? Do they feel it is difficult to understand the rules?
Swedish people generally feel very positive about Cricket and love to give it a shot. However, most Swedes think it takes a long time to play which is not entirely true because in Sweden we mostly play the shortest version of the game, Twenty20, which takes less than 3 hours to complete. At first people find it hard to understand all the rules but it’s like any other new sport, you get better over time. Cricket is all about physical as well as your mental strength which is a huge selling point for us because parents love to get children involved in something that’s a good exercise for both the mind and the body. It’s a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its laws but also within the Spirit of the Game, this in itself is a major attraction for many Swedes.
How would you explain the game in short to someone who has no clue?
Cricket has a few things in common with the Swedish sport called Brännboll. When we visit schools or introduce Cricket to adults we use Brännboll as an example. Most Swedes already possess the basic skills needed for Cricket. Because of popular sports like Innebandy & Ice-hockey the hand-eye coordination skills needed for batting are already there. Similarly another big sport among the Swedes is Handball which helps when we introduce catching and throwing. After a few trial runs, most people get the basic idea after which for some there has been no turning back.
Am I right in assuming the players in Sweden are to a large extent expats / immigrants / foreign students – in other words members of our website’s target audience… Is cricket a way to stay connected with your own roots – or just plain the best sport you know? Is it a way to connect with like-minded people?
It’s true that Cricket in Sweden is played mostly by expatriates, most of whom originate from Commonwealth countries. There are now some second generation of Cricketers whose parents originally moved to Sweden from Cricket playing countries. Having such a culturally diverse group of people connected because of a mutual interest helps bring people together, which is huge plus point for us. Swedish sports confederation (Riksidrottsförbundet) is also making enormous efforts to use sport as a tool for integration. At SCF we think Cricket has huge potential in bringing many different communities closer and making Sweden even a better place to live.