Swedish Touch on the Move
Sept. 4, 2017 @ 12:05 UTC
This summer, Ireland hosted the Junior European Touch Championship in Dublin. On that occasion, Sweden Touch sent their first ever team to participate to an international tournament, flying an u15 team with 13 kids to compete against the other European countries. It was a major step in the fledgling nation's development.
The first Swedish club emerged in Stockholm, when 2 friends who wanted to keep playing rugby through the winter with minimum risk of injury stumbled upon a touch rugby video and decided to give it a go. Four years later and despite the harsh winter weather, Touch Rugby is still growing and gathering players from all gender, age, ethnicity, political and social class.
Touch Stockholm has been playing tournaments all over Europe to gain experience and bring it back to Sweden where players, coaches, referees grew in skills, interest for the sport and even more inspired to keep travelling abroad to play our fantastic game. Touch STHLM has through the years participated in France, Germany, UK, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and more. After several years of running Touch twice a week, the club welcomes between 12 to 36 people on each training session. Three expats players made it into France national team in MXO, MO30 and WO27, bringing more and more experience to the local players.
Sweden has hosted several touch tournaments with its biggest so far with more than 60 players during July 2017 as final preparation for the U15. There is a growing interest both from the players but also the Rugby Union Federation who see this variant of the sport as a branch that will attract a whole new segment of people and broader its offering in the Nordics
Sweden's U15 team trained hard for several months through snow, blizzard, rain, and with only a couple of training games against adults to prepare them for the tournament ahead. They had never played a proper game against another U15 team, yet a whole tournament. Overall Sweden came 6th out of 9 participating teams and came very close to win against France, who came second, and Ireland, the hosting nation.
The whole tournament was an amazing adventure for the Sweden U15 players; not only on the pitch but off the pitch where they bond as a true team and created friends for life. Parents are even more happy than their daughters & sons: "This trip made such an impact on Kalle that he is seriously depressed now when he is home and back to school. The only thing he can talk about is Dublin, his friends and what a great and wonderful time he had with everyone on the team."
The whole experience would have never gotten through without the immense work of Samir Boutaleb, Head Coach of Touch Sweden. All teams who played against Sweden, the tournament organising comittee, the coaches and players all saluted his remarkable work bringing a rookie team full of talented kids that worked hard together and played in the spirit of the game: fair-play, respect and 100% joy. One parent goes even beyond: "[Samir], you have left a mark in these children I know they will remember you and Dublin with a huge smile on their faces. I cannot thank you enough."
Now back to Sweden, the U15 are transformed and play a much more advanced Touch than a lot of seasonned players. Their individual techniques have improved exponentially and they enjoy the sport more than ever before. A lot of the children come from Rugby Union where they now understand the depth of Touch and see it as a completely different sport than rugby, maybe even enjoy it more.
In the near future, Touch Sweden is going to collaborate with the Swedish and Danish Rugby Unions to promote the sport for all ages & genders and to create a structure and a framework to organise more tournaments in the region. Touch Sweden will also participate in schools and get more children to meet our community and the U15 Sweden national players to educate, inspire and excite them about our sport.
For more information, photos and media, please visit and get in touch with https://www.facebook.com/ swedentouch/
** Thanks to Antoine Coopoosamy for this story.