Weekend shoppers in the eastern Swedish city of Norrkoping got more than their usual fare when the UEFA Women's EURO Trophy Tour stopped by. Fans posed with the trophy, competed for tickets and had the chance to challenge star footballers to a game of table football.
With little over ten weeks to go until UEFA Women's EURO 2013 kicks off, preparations in Sweden are well under way. On Saturday, the organisers shifted up a gear, bringing the trophy to the people at a shopping mall in the heart of Norrkoping, which will host three group-stage matches and a semi-final in July.
"Preparations are going great," former Sweden striker Victoria Sandell Svensson told UEFA.com. Now a national tournament ambassador, and very much a part of the local organising committee (LOC), she explained: "During my playing days all I needed to keep in mind was what to do during 90 minutes on the pitch. Now there's so much more. I help the teams with on-site visits and try to do that to the best of my ability. It's a lot of fun."
Sandell Svensson was challenged to games of table football by Saturday shoppers, as was local favourite Christoffer Nyman of men's Allsvenskan side IFK Norrköping and the Sweden Under-21 team. "This is a lot harder than it looks," said Nyman after narrowly overcoming a young contender 5-4.
Winning the table football bouts offered only bragging rights, but there was also a chance for visitors to walk away with tickets to the matches played at Nya Parken in July. The Norrkoping stadium will host France v Russia, Spain v France and Russia v Spain in Group C as well as a semi-final on 25 July.
"Now feels like the right time to bring our campaign to the people," said Johan Bergerfalk of the LOC. "We are getting more and more ticket requests from companies and clubs in the area."
Besides promoting the tournament locally, there are also hopes of international guests. "We've heard that some 500–700 people from France are planning to come and we normally have lots of Russian visitors in the summer thanks to the Kolmården wildlife park, so we hope to attract some of them too," Bergerfalk added.
UEFA Women's EURO Trophy Tour dates
Saturday 4 May: Vaxjo (10.00–15.00)
Wednesday 15 May: Halmstad (in conjunction with local dinosaur exhibition)
Saturday 18 May: Gothenburg (in conjunction with Gothenburg half-marathon, 13.00–17.00)
Saturday 25 May: Kalmar (12.00–21.00)
Saturday 1 June: Linkoping (in conjunction with Sweden v Norway women's friendly)
Tuesday 11 June: Solna (in conjunction with Sweden v Faroe Islands at Friends Arena)
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