by David Jonsson
Benoit Esmein* (Captain)
Milou Lagerström Bonde*
*denotes players who will be seeking
Interview with Head Coach Hugo Hallberg
QP: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?
Hallberg: We’ve been trying to get as many people as possible interested, and our goal with participating in the European Games is perhaps to build an interest for quidditch in Sweden rather than win. We’ve been preparing by scouting previous games of our opponents and doing our regular training routines.
QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Hallberg: I think all teams have the ambition to win as many games as possible, but our main ambition is to build interest in the sport in Sweden and get experience from playing better teams.
QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Hallberg: Norway because it would be a fun game. There is deep-rooted rivalry between Sweden and Norway. Also, playing a team on their home turf is always something special. And Team UK because they’re very talented and I believe we would learn a lot from playing that kind of team. As for the teams in our group, I particularly look forward to playing the Netherlands; I’ve watched some of their games, and I think it will be one of our most interesting games to play.
QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Hallberg: We have discovered that we as an NGB don’t have the manpower or experience to make the most out of putting together a national team. It has also been difficult to find players with not only the will, but also the time and money to go. We’ve also faced a few late dropouts by non-male players.
QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players (or underrated players) we should watch out for?
Hallberg: All players will be underrated since no one knows a lot about us, and it’s easy to underestimate a team you’re not familiar with. We’re a team and we win and lose together, so I don’t want to point out anyone in particular.
QP: How do you think participating in the European Games for the first time will affect the development of Swedish quidditch?
Hallberg: We’ve already been getting requests about doing interviews with some of the major media outlets in connection with the European Games. Media coverage has already increased because of our participation, which will also lead to a rise in interest and, hopefully, more people picking up the game.
With only a few dozen players and little–to–no domestic competitive play, Sweden is one of Europe’s smallest NGBs. It therefore comes as no surprise that the first installment of the Swedish national team will descend on Oslo with a skeleton crew. With only two non-male players, the team will be forced to play one player down when the snitch comes on pitch.
Sweden is severely lacking in the beater department. With a single dedicated beater on the roster, the other players will have to leave their comfort zones to fill up the other position. The team packs some experience in the chaser section, however. Team captain Benoit Esmein, who is also likely to seek, brings European Quidditch Cup experience to the team and will be able to form a strong, albeit thin, quaffle lineup with Sara Weman, formerly of the Santa Barbara Blacktips, and OSI Vikings player Martin Beyer. The team has not yet practiced together and most players will meet each other for the first time as they arrive in Oslo, so a lack of on-pitch chemistry between the players can be expected.
The Swedish team sums up its own expectations in the slogan “Vi gör så gott vi kan,” which translates to “We do the best we can.” This is probably what can be expected of them, as they are likely to leave the tournament without a win and in last place. Their presence is likely to have a positive impact on Swedish quidditch, though, and the players will come away with newly-won experience and the feeling of being part of a larger community.