Posted: 8/8/2006


  The Norway Cup ended in sunshine after it looks as if one wet day would turn the gazillion pitches into a quagmire, as has happened many times in its 33 year history.
There was a splendid final in U14 class. Mathare United from Nairobi, Kenya beat a localteam from 5km away from the Ekeberg site 2-0. The Kenyans had a striker about 4 ft 9 in who would have made an ideal Dickensian chimney sweep, and their soccer was crisp, and superb with ball skills that I hope will boost East Africa's chances of one day having a World Cup Finals participant for the first time.
The local Boler Club  had 3 or 4 decent players with some flair, but also a couple of 'tubbies' who looked as if they had eaten all the pies, and were overweight and out of shape.
  A Macedonia team  beat Pequinos de Jockey of Sao Paulo in the next higher age group and I left before seeing the result of Ivory Coast vs Cruz Azul of Mexico U 16 boys. By contrast, most of the inter Norwegian finals in both boys and girls groups were tame affairs.
Norway Cup has constructed a stadium seating about 3,000 as the centerpiece of activities for the finals, with the only level and decent grass pitch, after years of having the finals down town at the Bislett stadium, famous for track and field. For the 2 finals days most of the 40,000 players and supporters have left town anyway.
  Due to it being later than most European youth tournament, the standard of fields and competition, most decent USA teams and those from Europe and Latin America give it a pass.
One older local player told me. "When I was 13-14 our club used to play decent teams from up North, from Trondheim and Tromso but now they allow 3 teams in each age group from the same local Oslo area club, and you play them anyway during the season". 
   The Gothia Cup 2 weeks earlier gets the best clubs and is fairly restrictive and is loads of fun. You can walk most places in Gothenburg with its splendid ambiance. Sven Ivarsson, now running Dana Cup No 1 in Frederiickshavn, across the water in Denmark the week before, and co founder Ake Neilson should be proud of their achievements of providing the world with beautiful events that have brought admiration from teams from over 100 countries world wide, and current Director Dennis Andersson  has worked hard to make it the event that it is today. Dana Cup with around 500 teams is much smaller, but has most of the fields clustered together in one location, and Northern Jutland has beaches, small fishing villages and a slow pace that is a great, and safe, atmosphere both on and off the pitch.
  This week Goteborg, Sweden hosts the European Athletics Championships at Ullevi Stadion and free concerts every night at The Avenue, the main wide tourist avenue.
  Oslo is over 1100 years old and for about 500 years was ruled by the Danes and then the Swedes, until independence a century ago. It later changed its name from Christiana, named after a Danish King Christian, to the current Oslo.
On the waterfront is the City Hall which every December 10th hosts the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, made possible by Alfred Nobel, who was so shocked at what his invention, explosives, had caused that he gave part of his fortune to support various Nobel prizes. Other ceremonies for physics, literature, medecine etc., are usually held in Stockholm, Sweden.
  Oslo has a splendid 1952 Olympic ski jump up a hill by light rail at Holmenkollern for splendid views, the renovated docks at Acker Brygge with restaurants and cafes and shops, the Akerhus Fortress, still in use, and ferries all over the archipelago. Also nearby, by ferry or bus is the Bygdoy peninsula with many great museums. The most interesting  are Kon-Tiki, where Thor Hyerdahl sailed from Peru to the Pacific islands on a balsa wood raft to prove it was possible, and later RA II from Africa to the Caribbean in a papyrus reed raft and then from Indian to Africa. the most exciting is the FRAM museum the boat used in exploring both the Arctic and Antarctic and  used by Roald Amundsson on his trek to be the first at the South Pole around 1910, beating the British team led by captain Robert Scott who arrived a month later and perished on their return to the coast and safety. They had tried to use mechanical tractors which froze, and untrained Siberian ponies who  were not up to the task and finished being eaten, rather than the large supply of huskies used by the Norwegians.
  Downtown Oslo is bustling around the main street, Karl Johanns Gate that leads from Oslo Sentral past Parliament and the University and National Theatre to the Royal Palace.
Unfortunately its also a drug lovers paradise and a recent input of 600 illegal alien prostitutes from Romania and elsewhere hasn't helped. HOWEVER, there is far less smoking that in more southern Europe by about  three quarters. many use SNUS in Scandinavia, snuff between the upper lip and gums. It now comes in little tiny tea bag style packets that hopefully keeps cancer away.
I must also mention the splendid and free Vigeland Park which has shocking when it openened maybe 60 years or so ago. A huge park with hundreds of individual and group bronze statues of the naked family, men, women and kids and babies. Now it is no longer shocking and a great place to stroll and picnic.
  Scandinavia is delightful, but expensive and the countryside is varied and peaceful.