Gothia Cup

Time for Gothia Special Olympics Trophy

Monday morning the first matches of this year’s edition of Gothia Special Olympics Trophy took place. A few hours later the tournament had its opening ceremony where the founder Kim Källström talked to the players and audience.

The tournament is for youths with some sort of intellectual disability and was founded by Swedish football star Kim Källström. He named it Kim Källström Trophy but nowadays it’s called Gothia Special Olympics Trophy.

Monday morning the first games of this year’s tournaments had their kickoffs. The matches on the first day is division game according to the Special Olympics regulations to determine each team’s level. The group stage begins on Tuesday.

After a few games Monday morning it was time for the opening ceremony. The teams walked in after each other to one of the pitches at Kviberg. Then there were some interviews with the people behind the tournament, and a smiling Kim Källström entered the area with big cheering from the players and audience.

“It’s amazing. Every time I come here I get the same feeling. All the energy, all the happiness and all the will to play football and have fun together is really cool”, says Kim Källström.

The tournament has since the beginning in 2011 grown a lot. This year it’s 30 teams from 15 different nations.

“That has been our goal even though we knew it would be hard to reach. Now we’re there and I know there’s some really hard work behind it. Some teams come for their first time and some teams has been here before, and that’s great that teams returns to play here.”

How important is Gothia Special Olympics Trophy for you?

“I’m very proud to have been a part of this since the beginning and also very proud to see how much this means to so many people. This isn’t created for me, the tournament is for these players. There are different types of alienation in the society and intellectual disability is one of them. In Gothia Cup everyone who wants to play should be able to play, so this is brilliant”, says Källström.

Joakim Lantz plays for the Swedish team Kalmar FF. This year’s tournament is his first.

“What I feel about playing this big tournament is huge. It’s also very impressive that we could bring two teams this year. That’s great in so many ways for us as a team”, says Lantz.

Were you nervous before the games begun?

“You’d bet I were. I was really nervous last night. We came here and I was expecting a soft night and a good night sleep. Instead I was so nervous I got a headache.”

Joakim Lantz and his team lost their first game against Special Olympics Hong Kong. He was pleased with their contribution, but the thing he’ll remember was the experience of playing against a team from outside Sweden.

“We’ve only met teams from Sweden before so it would be really cool to face a team from France or Denmark. Now we faced a team from Hong Kong, so we took some photos and stuff that we can save as a great memory.