Sweden's bid to win UEFA Women's EURO 2013 received royal approval on Saturday when HRH Prince Daniel of Sweden – already engrossed by a tournament he billed as "super exciting" – paid the hosts an unexpected visit.
Having endured a gruelling workout, Pia Sundhage's players had barely caught their breath before welcoming Prince Daniel, a renowned sports enthusiast and specialist in health and fitness, to the Bosön National Sports Complex outside Stockholm. "They came here after a fitness test and they still had wide grins on their faces, so they seem to have the right attitude," Prince Daniel told UEFA.com.
As patron of both the tournament and the Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal campaign, Prince Daniel's commitment to next month's eagerly awaited finals is unwavering. "On a scale of one to ten, my anticipation is ten," added the 39-year-old, already booked in for the opening match on 10 July.
If Sweden midfielder Caroline Seger and forward Lotta Schelin needed any further incentive to triumph on home soil, a trip to the Royal Palace is a potentially mouth-watering proposition. "He said that if we win the tournament, he'd try and make it happen. That sounds fine to me, winning it and then storming into the palace," said Schelin, who was honoured to encounter royalty.
"It was a really nice gesture," added the Olympique Lyonnais player. "Having a representative from the royals is always a big thing. It shows respect for what we're doing, particularly with him being patron of the tournament. And being the sports lover that he is, I'm sure he also enjoyed it."
Earlier in the day, Prince Daniel had met hundreds of tournament volunteers in Solna, who were receiving CPR training. "The volunteers play a great and decisive part in the success of an event of this magnitude," he said.
"I felt it was important to show them encouragement. It's one thing to drop by the team and say hi, but the grassroots level is very important. A successful tournament would lead to many young girls and boys starting to play football, and that in turn would have a positive effect on their health."
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