The winners of our Fair Play contest
The relationship between Lerums IS and Te Awamutu FC from New Zealand shows that football and sports are so much more than just results and success. Their joint experience during last year’s Gothia Cup shows the importance of Fair Play and how it can be expressed in many different ways.
Ahead of last year’s Gothia Cup, Lerum’s G13 team applied to be a host team during the tournament. The plan was to take care of a girls team of the same age, but when the opportunity to host the thirteen-year-old boys in Te Awamutu FC from New Zealand came, it was a done deal.
”It wasn’t really anything to think about. When we got the situation presented to us we thought it was a great thing. A team from the other side of the globe that the girls could speak English with and that it was guys felt like it could be socially evolving for them too. We had heard from other teams that it gives something extra to the Gothia experience if you are a host team so we felt that if we were going to spend our holiday and do a lot of planning for the tournament we wanted to get the most out of it”, Per Carlsson, team manager for Lerums G13 says.
Te Awamutu FC performs haka to express their gratitude towards Lerums IS
On the other side of the globe, Te Awamutu FC was preparing to embark on the, to say the least, long journey. Team coach Tania Hall says they did a lot of different things to finance the trip.
”We did a lot of fundraising. Our target was to make sure that the boys didn’t have to pay too much of the trip, many would not have been able to go otherwise. We did things like hosting an Outdoor Movie Night, host a Quiz night, a motorbike run, we sold jars of honey that were donated to us – chocolates, baking and sausages at BBQ’s outside stores and at their schools. The boys had individual sponsors, and we had team sponsors, in particular Gothenburg Restaurant in Hamilton City was a major sponsor. The owner’s wife comes from Gothenburg so they were really happy to support us and they also were in Gothenburg while we were playing”.
And when they came to Sweden and Gothenburg, Lerums IS was there and welcomed them. The two teams gathered at a restaurant for burgers and sat together during the inauguration at Ullevi. Bit by bit they got to know each other. When the games started, the results didn’t go as Te Awamutu FC had hoped for. They ended up in a tough group and met, among others, the upcoming winners Brommapojkarna, a match they lost by 25-0. Te Awamutu’s collected only losses in the tournament and unfortunately they also failed to score, their overall goal difference ended 0-54. Of course it was very tough to travel halfway round the world without even get to celebrate a single goal. Luckily they had their new friends in Lerum to lean on and together with them they had a fun week after all.
”Lerum were very hospitable and we enjoyed going to their games and support them. We were very grateful for the Lerum coaches and players coming to watch some of our games and tell us some of the history of the Cup and about the teams that compete in it”, Tania hall says.
In addition to the teams followed several of each other’s games, Lerum also invited the Te Awamutu to their training facility in Lerum where they spent an evening together. During that evening, Lerum’s G16 team and Wellington United Diamonds G16 were also included, they also had a host team relationship. In the match they played during the evening, the guys in Te Awamutu finally managed to score a goal and their happiness was total.
”It was an evening of fun games and a friendly match at their clubrooms followed by a meal, while they washed our playing strip in their laundry for us. This was a godsend as we had no way to get this done otherwise”, Tania Hall says and continues:
”Lerum were so welcoming and interested in us as a football team and a group of people from another country far away. Having the interaction with them was priceless and our boys talked about the visit to their clubrooms and spending the evening there as a major highlight of the trip”.
During the finals, the team sat together at Gamla Ullevi and together they got to experience and rejoice when Lerum’s G16 team took home the whole tournament. Although the results didn’t go Te Awamutu’s way, players and leaders could leave Gothenburg and the tournament and somehow feel like a winner.
”We learnt so much about the Cup, how big the tournament is, how other teams prepare, how to fundraise and what type of players we need to be if we were to travel there again. It was a tough time traveling all that distance but absolutely worth every minute of it to be there”, Tania Hall says.
And for Per Carlsson and the players in Lerum, the experience as a host team was as much appreciated.
”Being a host team added an extra dimension to the whole Gothia experience, I can really recommend it to anyone who thinks about it. If you do more things than just see a game together, it gives a lot. It’s individual what you do but taking care of long-distance teams and giving them a different experience was very rewarding”, he says.
Gothia Cup’s fair play project Celebrate the Game was created to improve the environment for everyone, both on and off the pitch. Some time ago we announced a contest where we asked you to submit your best fair play stories. There was an opportunity to win a Celebrate the game match kit, but above all we hoped that this would make you reflect even more on fair play, the value of it and the different ways it can express itself.
We have received many great stories from players and teams around the world who have acted in true CTG spirit but we especially was caught by the story with Lerum’s IS G13 team and Te Awamutu FC B13 from New Zealand. A fine example of two teams that showed fair play both on and off the pitch and that hopefully they can inspire and motivate others.