Kolbotn IL knocked out UEFA Women's Cup holders 1. FFC Frankfurt last season and the Norwegian champions boast the nucleus of their national side.
With the second qualifying round of the UEFA Women's Cup starting next week, uefa.com is taking a detailed look at each of the 16 clubs looking to progress to the quarter-finals and beyond. Today, Norwegian champions Kolbotn IL.
Founded in 1915, Kolbotn is a multi-sports club who later counted polar explorer Roald Amundsen among their honourary members and is especially noted for its wrestlers, including Olympic gold-medallist Jon Rønningen. Football was played there from 1916, with a semi-autonomous section starting in 1960, but although girls soccer was played for many years a senior female team did not begin until 1985.
Rising up the ranks
Starting in the Norwegian fifth level, the new side took only seven years to rise to division two. Acquiring ambition, and attracting some talented youngsters, promotion to the top flight was achieved in 1994. In their first season they ended sixth, then fifth, followed by three fourth-place finishes, as well as reaching the 1998 Norwegian Women's Cup final, losing to SK Trondheims/Ørn. In 2000 Kolbotn stepped up to third, second in 2001 and the progress was complete when the 2002 title was clinched.
This secured a UEFA Women's Cup debut in 2003/04 and Kolbotn reached the quarter-finals before a narrow 2-1 aggregate defeat against Malmö FF. However, Kolbotn now boasted the nucleus of the Norwegian national team including Solveig Gulbrandsen, who had turned down several offers from foreign clubs to stay with her local side. Kolbotn finished second in the league in 2003, also losing to minnows Medkila IL in the one of the biggest cup final upsets - male or female - in Norwegian history.
They fell to fifth in 2004 before returning to championship-winning form a year later with Gulbrandsen playing a crucial role, as she did alongside Trine Rønning, Kristin Blystad-Bjerke, Christine Nilsen, Ingvild Stensland and Isabell Herlovsen for the national team when they reached the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ final - Kolbotn supplying more Norwegian squad members than any other club. That experience perhaps helped them in the 2006/07 UEFA Women's Cup, as they made a superb comeback during the second leg of the quarter-finals to oust holders 1. FFC Frankfurt on away goals. Umeå IK proved too tough in the semis but with the 2006 Norwegian title in the bag, Kolbotn knew they would return this season.