Sweden hopes to revolutionize American football through an emphasis on athleticism and European expansion. The Swedish Football Federation believes that IMG Academy makes their goals viable.
Patrik Lundqvist, the Swedish National Football Team Head Coach brought 50 players to train at IMG Academy in June. Ranging from 13-18-years of age, the players practiced alongside NFL prospects, campers and other talented football players under the instruction of IMG Academy coaches as the Swedish coaching staff observed and learned.
Lundqvist, a graduate from Walsh University, captained a European Championship-winning team and played free safety in NFL Europe before launching his coaching career with the Swedish National Team in 2006. Impressed by IMG Academy, Lundqvist referred to it as a “dream come true” and wants to emulate the player development in Sweden.
International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Team and Swedish National Football Team Strength and Conditioning Coach Niclas Carlson explained that speed and education are the greatest discrepancies between American and Swedish football. He praised how IMG Academy develops young athletes with transferable physical and mental skills beyond a one-track technical mind. By emphasizing the development of agility, power and flexibility, in addition to football-specific development, players can improve tremendously.
At IMG Academy, the Swedish players gained experience in different types of football training and realized what it takes to compete at a high level, all the time, to reach the highest levels of the game.
Also responsible for the Swedish football education and development programs, Carlson wants to set up a standard Scandinavian football system similar to the United States’ to increase participation in various countries. In addition to this, the Swedish Football Federation is looking to begin a coaches development program in conjunction with IMG Academy to increase the quality of player training in Sweden.
The upcoming 2015 IFAF World Championship held in Stockholm has the potential to stimulate American football in Sweden, especially if the Swedes can put up a good showing against the Americans and Canadians like the IFAF World team did in 2012 when it defeated the U.S. With its wide television coverage and event publicity, Sweden has the opportunity to create a model attracting an incredible number of players that other European nations can reproduce when hosting future championships.
The Swedish National Team will face Denmark during August in a Junior European Championship Qualifier.