Postcards from Europe - 7: Go Husqvarna!

Many Swedes had recommended I go and watch an Ice Hockey game while I was in Sweden. The local Jonkoping team, called Husqvarna are pretty good and have won the Swedish league in 2008. So yesterday I and a friend went to catch a game at the local ice rink.

What was great to see was that the stadium was packed by about 8000 Swedes, by my rough estimate. Kids, men, women, the elderly and even several people with physical disability all turned out in full voice, heartily cheering and 'ooh-aahing' for their team.

It reminded me of the pathetic condition of sports in India, where apart from IPL, no domestic sport ever gets any spectators (except from some parts in the east where football has a fan following). In Sweden, as in every other country in the west, the sports infrastructure, the importance given to it in everyone's life is such a stark contrast to our ignored, neglected, poorly paid athletes who have to struggle against unhelpful bureaucracy and an indifferent public.

I didn't have much time to ponder as the scoring began right from the start. Husqvarna, the home team, and hence the one I was supporting raced to a 3-0 lead before the first period ended (3 periods in a game, which I found weird).

Things started heating up (only figuratively) in the second quarter. Now ice hockey is quite a physical game and body checking an opponent even when he is without the puck is quite acceptable. So is ramming someone into the boundary wall or hitting them with the hockey stick. So if you let loose a bunch of powerful competitive men in protective gear and hockey sticks then you are bound to witness a few scuffles. Fast paced and obviously intentional collisions were happening all over the place, with tempers flaring as the players were swept away with sporting passion A few punches were thrown and the referees had to come skating in to separate the players quite a few times.

Meanwhile the visting team, Södertälje (don't ask me how it's pronounced) scored a couple of goals. This was getting tight and all the more reason for tempers to start flying. You could see the effort and commitment from players of both teams and the crowd was cheering all the way. Deep in the final period, Södertälje scored again to level the scores. We were going into extra-time!

The extra-time in ice hockey follows the golden goal format, with the team scoring first winning the match. The atmosphere grew electric as the spectators watched with baited breath to see who would turn hero for the day by scoring the winning goal. Husqvarna had plenty of possession and was trying to break down the tough defence. As a last-ditch effort to win, they substituted their goalie for an outfield player and went for an all-or-nothing attack! Any mistake now would give Södertälje a chance to shoot at an open goal and end the game. But their gamble paid off and Husqvarna scored the winning goal and the audience erupted in applause! Husqvarna 4, Södertälje 3!

As I headed back after a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours at the game you could see the grin of victory on everyone's faces and I couldn't help but wonder again why we don't have such a sporting culture back in India.


  1. I think for effect, you should try a "i-dont-care-abt-anything" post in your blog. The background music will go well(Pyasaa?) with it.

  2. Well I was trying to be subtle. And the background music is meant only for the post on 'Pyaasa'. But it plays on the homepage and I like it, so leaving it as it is..

  3. It's okay to hit each other with hockeysticks..That made me laugh..and sounds like fun! :D

    Btw I was watching a Malayalam news channel last week hoping to get an update on cricket test scores(the day India won the second test)..and I was mightily irritated to see a "Kerala beat Punjab in-some-sport-school-league" news..and the cricket missing!

    P.S I dint get the last comment..


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