GOTHIA CUP www.gothiacup.se is something VERY SPECIAL ! 1730, teams from 83 countries and a spectacular Opening Ceremony in front to 50,000 spaectators at ULLEVI STADIUM, where in 1958 a young PELE played his very first World Cup match at age 17 on the way to helping BRAZIL to their very first victory 5-2 a few weeks later in Rasunda Stadium in Stockholm over hosts Sweden. Pele scored twice. I I watched in awe on a small black and white TV set in England.
Catching the No. 7 tram from downtown Gothenburg to Kviberg with 25 outdoor pitches was lots of fun. It was packed like sardines with players and coaches from many nations. Waiting to climb aboard was an 11 year old team from Milan chanting ITALIA ! ITALIA !. On board were teams from Corsica France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, England, USA, and more, all clapping, singing and chanting on the 25nminute journey to Kleburg, the biggest complex. It took half an hour to walk to pitch 15..and there were 10 more pitches even further.afield.
First we pass the magnificent Priority Serneke Arena and hotel.www.prioritesernekesrena.se. I had stayed there 18 months ago wth www.lsk.no Lillestrom SK from Norway when it was freezing outside. In the basement they have a 1.2 km ice cross country training course, Upstairs at ground floor is a full size fotboll pitch which can be changed into four training pitches. Behind one goal are about 120 twin rooms , half overlooking the action, which I could watch from my room. There were restaurants, cafes, sports equipment shops, volleyball and team handball court, fitness gyms and next door the world's biggest indoor and outdoor beach volleyball courts.www.beachcenter.se
I first came to Gothia Cup in 1976 the second edition with about 200 teams. All slept in local inner city schools such as Katrinalundsgymnasiet opposite Ullevi Stadium with matches a few hundred yards away at The Heden, city centre and one block from The Avenue (Avenyn) with hard dirt and gravel pitches. The teams from the far north wore long pants tucked into their socks, the rest suffered cruel thigh scrapes from the surface,. but even then it was a fun week. Nearby is LISEBERG, the Nordic countries biggest amusement park , Universeum a fun science museum and aquarium, huge hotels such as Gothia Towers ,pubs and restaurants open until the small hours.
Now there is even a GOTHIA CUP CHINA, www.gothiacupchina.com franchised to Shenyang, the largest city in Norh Eastern China with a population of 8 million., and the nation's football capital. Opening Ceremony there is in front of 60,000 in Crystal Crown Arena. Sleeping is primarily at local universities with 4-6 bedded rooms for 20,000.
Back to Sweden's second city, which used to be linked to England by gigantic overnight ferries. Home of host club BK Haken and IFK Goteborg, the Blue Angels. Dutch style canals and an off shore archepelago linked by small ferries from the end of the line on Tram.No 11 at Saltholmen. Yesterday I arrived at the terminus and met my best frined Sven Ivarsson, the first Gothai Cup director and walked to DOCKYARD restauarant for dinner, overlooking the Gothia River as a ferry passed by on the 4 hour journey to Fredrikshavn, Denmark, itself home to Cup No.1 which is held the week before Gothia Cup. Nowadays Gothia Cup is run by a well oilled office machine and MANY volunteers. Tournament boss is Dennis Andersson, also GM of BK Hacken and son Nicolas are the powers behind the success.
THE SHOW GOES ON..AND ON...AND ON !