The Swedish women’s national team can look back on the first part of their campaign to qualify to Division A for 2007 with pride. Comprehensive wins over Ireland, Luxembourg and Estonia have given the Swedes pole position in Group A, with 3 final games to come in 2005.
But that’s not why they are garnering national attention. The reason for that? Singing.
Just before their first game tipped off against Ireland in Södertälje, disaster struck when the PA system broke down at the moment when the Swedish national anthem was due to be played.
Rather than skip out on the anthem, captain Ingela Östman-Capin gathered her team together and led an a cappella rendition of Du gamla, Du fria (or, You old, you free). Their version proved to be a hit and soon the 1,000 spectators were all singing along.
Östman-Capin’s fondness for her country’s national anthem is enforced among her team-mates. Rookies are required to know all the words and may be called upon to perform at any moment. For guard Nina Bärlin, that meant standing on a chair in an Italian restaurant following her first cap.
The team proved to enjoy their performance before the Irish game so much, that before their second game against Luxembourg, Östman-Capin informed coach Elvind Möstl that they wanted to do it again!
Möstl of course acquiesced and after informing a bemused, but amenable commissioner, the girls once again sang the Swedish national anthem themselves.
A final rendition followed before the game against Estonia and what started as an emergency fill-in looks on the verge of becoming a tradition. Before all of their games in future, the women’s team will sing the national anthem themselves.
Their opening display was captured by Swedish Television (the clip can be viewed here) and earned Östman-Capin an appearance on their weekly sports magazine.