This month the Swedish All Stars traveled to the Shrine Bowl for the 3rd straight year under the leadership of Coach Jon Walker. Coach Walker and his staff took 35 young Swedish players to Florida to compete in the Shrine Bowl against other youth teams from America. Coach Walker is from Sacramento, California and attended the University of San Diego where he played Center. He came to Europe in 2012 and has been coaching the Kristianstd Predators the past 6 seasons.
The organizer of the Shrine Bowl Jay Erhart is from Sacramento and his son played for Coach Walker when he was a coach at American River College (CA). After Mr. Erhart noticed youth teams in Sweden he asked coach walker if they would like to join. “I asked some parents and they said they were very interested. So, I started spreading the word and getting players signed up. The camp is for players who are 14 & 13 years old. The first year we had 28 players, the second we had 31, this past year we had 35.
The Shrine Bowl is a tremendous event both in California and Florida. It raises thousands of dollars every year to support the Shriner Hospitals for Children. https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/shc I am proud to be able to bring the Swedish team to be a part of this tradition.
Our players are from all over Sweden. We do a short summer camp in Sweden where the players get to know each other and get to experience a higher level of football. Then we get to the camp in Florida and we get to see how much the players have grown over the fall. They get to practice with players from Florida which again raises the level of play and experience. Then we play against the California All Stars. Which again gives them a whole new level of football to experience. ” said Coach Walker.
“I think each year the experience gets better and better. This camp is 100% about growing the love of the game in the young players who attend the camp. We want to play well and execute and we coach the kids hard. But, The Shrine Bowl camp is not about trying to win a game. Everything we organize for the players is solely designed for them to experience American Football at its purest and most intense level. Each year we attend an NFL game, we go to the Florida High School State Championships, this year we attended a practice of the Orlando Anarchy, the professional Women’s team in Orlando.
The NFL experience is amazing. Each year we go to an NFL game. 2 years ago, it was the Tampa Bay Bucs, this year we went to the Jacksonville Jags game. We get group tickets so everyone can sit near each other. Two busses that takes us to and from the game. The NFL team provides us a tailgate BBQ lunch in the parking lot. And, we take the players down to the field during pregame. They get to watch the NFL players during warm ups. We got to meet the Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter two years ago. Then they line up our players on the end zone for the introduction of the teams, the National anthem, and the flyover. It is a pretty awesome experience.”- Coach Walker
EE: How did your Swedish squad match up against the other teams?
Coach Walker: The Swedish All Stars did great this year. Each year we seem to close the gap a little between the level of play of the California and Florida players.
EE: What is the biggest difference between Sweden and US football?
Coach Walker: In this game and in general there are a couple differences that stand out. First is the speed. The speed and athleticism of the players and just the speed of the game in general. Next, and I think this creates the biggest separation between the two countries is the experience/knowledge and depth of the players who are not the top-level players. When it is “best vs best” the US has a definite advantage over Sweden. But, Sweden can hold its own. When you start to compare that 2nd and 3rd level players the gap separating the two countries is very big. Which in turn creates more competition for the Americans and is what allows them to play at such a faster pace.
Swedish MVP Axel Hagelberg Stridh
This year the Swedish MVP was RB/DB Axel Hagelberg Stridh from Gothenburg. He is an outstanding player and an outstanding young man. OL/DL Lucas Simmons from Stockholm was outstanding. Our LB and Safety groups was the best defensive unit we have had yet.
Shrine Bowel 2018
We will start getting things organized to have a great 2018 camp after the new year. To get more info on camp dates and to sign up for the 2018 camp you can go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SwedishAllStars/
2017 Swedish All Star coaching staff:
Jon Walker – Head Coach
Christopher Fredlund – OC
Stefan Bjorkman – Offensive Line
Fredrik Cornell – WR/RB
Tobias Rivelius – DC
Philip Blomdahl – DB