We continue our European Youth Championships 2019 column, including blitz-interviews with some great people of our bowling family!
It is the Head Coach of all National bowling teams from the U-18, U-21, ladies and men’s teams, as well as the Head of Talent and Elite of Swedish Bowling Federation Johan Ekiz Ekström who is answering our questions today.
How to make it to the youth team of Sweden (for players)?
– Mainly through our talent program, but also based on competition results. All teams are picked by the Head Coach
How many youth players (also amateurs, leagues) there are in Sweden?
– I don’t have an exact number, but for both boys and girls – around 1800 players less than 21 years of age.
What are the top sports in Sweden? Is ten-pin bowling in TOP-10 or maybe even better?
– No, bowling is no way near top 10 unfortunately. I would say soccer, floorball, handball, ice-hockey, golf, all types of skiing, track and field, horse and then there are the rest of the Olympic sports before bowling…
How many hours you spend coaching?
– I´m hired full time by the federation and it varies a lot, but all together, I would say it is 16 hours a week on lane coaching.
What is the most demanding/challenging part of the coaching job and what is the best part?
– There are so many things that are challenging, on so many levels, but of course, when you try to be an asset for the best players you definitely have to be on the top of your game, using all of your skills.
One of the most rewarding things is when you see a players trying very hard to do what he/she believes in succeeding in their strive to achieve something special. Having the opportunity to be a part of that is very rewarding for me.
Do you bowl yourself?
– Yes I do, and have been for 35 years now.
Do you have any superstitions or lucky charms (for the big events), if not a secret?
-Ha-ha, well, I tend to keep a shirt for the next day if the previous day was a good one, otherwise I try not to…
What is best part of youth tournament such as EYC, from the coach perspective?
– I have had the luxury of winning a lot of medals so of course that is a good part, but from a coaches perspective it’s pretty much like the previous answer, to see a player overcome some difficulties, turn a tournament around and succeed in the end.
What is your best EYC moment/memory, so far?
– Medal wise, definitely the team Golds, but there are so many individual performances that come to mind along with that.
Do you see bowling in Olympics program in the near future?
– Obviously, that’s a dream, as this is the sport I love, but I don’t think it is going to happen any time soon, unfortunately. I think that bowlers have to start with asking ourselves why we are not there yet. My personal belief is that we have to start taking our own sport serious before we even can think that someone else is going to. This is one of very few things I would like to be wrong about though…
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