Gothia Cup

The very first Gothia Cup baby

Sandra Westman and Joel Sjödén met for the first time at the opening ceremony at Gothia Cup 2008. Ten years later, also on the opening day of the Gothia Cup, their daughter Belle was born. “It’s awesome and almost unlikely that the baby arrived on the same day as the inauguration”, says Sandra Westman.

It’s a cloudy Monday afternoon in Heberg, a small town just south of Falkenberg, just over an hour’s drive from Gothenburg. Joel Sjödén has just come home from work and Sandra Westman’s been home with daughter Belle. A dog is barking in the room next door and a grayhaired cat is sleeping in an empty cardboard box in the hall.

“You don’t want coffee, right, Sandra?” Joel asks as he pours a cup to himself.

The pair met for the first time at the opening of the Gothia Cup. The year was 2008 and Joel had traveled to Gothenburg from Gävle. Sandra was there with her team Trönninge from Varberg.

“Your team was sitting right in front of my team in the stands. It all started with you sending me a song via Bluetooth, as people did back then. Then I played it and then you noticed that it had ended up right behind you”, says Sandra and continues:

“Then we sent a little back and forth throughout the inauguration. But I sent more songs to players in your team because I didn’t really know who got the songs. Then I became known as the Bluetooth Girl”.

It wasn’t until after the inauguration that they started talking to each other properly. On the bus back to the school where they were going to stay during the tournament, Sandra and her friends sat in the back of the bus. When the bus started driving, Joel and his team came running to catch up. The bus stopped and when Joel, the last of the team, got on, there was only one seat left on the whole bus. The seat next to Sandra.

“It was a fortunate thing,” says Sandra.

“There were actually two seats available, but I chose the one next to you”, says Joel and smiles.

“When we noticed that we were walking in the same direction after the bus had arrived and actually lived at the same school, I asked him for his number”, says Sandra.

When the tournament started, Sandra and her team didn’t perform like they had hoped. But the future couple tried to see each other as much as possible.

“It went so badly for my team. We went to the playoffs B but basically went out right away. Then it was almost more fun to look at Joel’s matches”, says Sandra.

After an intensive week, they traveled home in each direction when the tournament was over. Sandra to Varberg and Joel to Gävle. It would take a whole year for them to see each other again.

“The time after Gothia Cup we kept in touch over the phone. But Joel’s family always goes to the west coast in Sweden every summer so when they would go down the summer after the Gothia Cup they stopped in Varberg at a camping over the weekend, so we could finally meet. That’s when we became a couple”, says Sandra.

The following years was characterized by regular trips back and forth for them between Gävle and Varberg. On the wall all the train tickets from the time they traveled to each other are framed. “We had a long distance relationship for three years during high school. After I graduated, I immediately moved down here”, says Joel.

It’s now been seven years since they moved in with each other and last year their daughter Belle was born. The day she was born was like written in the stars – the opening day of the Gothia Cup, ten years after Sandra and Joel met for the first time. This summer, they also got married.

“People thought we should get married at the Gothia Cup inauguration, we heared that many times. I could have imagined doing that but that never happened”, Joel says and smiles.