Monday, August 20, 2007

Filling the Brain on BK Hacken

Just came back from training at Rambergsvallen, the home ground of BK Häcken. The old stadium that holds about 5,000 is actually on a man-made island, so to get to it, we drove over a bridge on the Göta River. Though it was raining, we still got a nice view of the surrounding city and its skyline dominated by a building locally known as “The Lipstick.”

As we got off the bus, a policeman pulled Marcus Hahnemann aside. Nervous, the MNT Bloggers asked Marcus what that was about, but the Reading goalkeeper said the guard merely complemented him on his clean sheet against Manchester United a week ago.

While the team headed right into a light training session, we stopped to talk to one of the other policemen and our liaisons about our surroundings. We learned that BK Häcken is one of the smaller clubs in Göteborg and was in fact relegated from the Allsvenskan (Sweden’s highest division) in 2006. This year, however, though they are playing in a lower league, they’ve gained entry into the UEFA Cup via last year’s Fair Play drawing. Currently they’re in the second qualifying round for entry into the group stage, and they just tied Dunfermline away from home 1-1. Next week’s match won’t be played at Rambergsvallen, however. Because it doesn’t meet UEFA’s standards for European matches, it will be played at the Ullevi, the same location for our match against Sweden Wednesday night.

BK Häcken, it seems, is more famous around Göteborg for its commitment to a youth tournament that it runs every year. One of the biggest competitions in the world, the yearly event brings in teams from around the world and generates much of the revenue the club uses throughout the year. BK Häcken’s policy towards youth soccer has served it well through the years, and Sweden midfielder Kim Källström, who is in the squad for this week’s game, got his professional career underway amongst the youth teams at the club.

Anyhow, training finished up without much else to report, other than the fact that U-23 coach and MNT assistant coach Peter Nowak performed a spectacular bicycle kick in the rain during the shooting drills at the end of practice. After his rather humble celebration, we headed back to the hotel to dry ourselves off and get ready for dinner.

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