30 teams. 15 nations. Six groups. After 72 matches over four days, by the time the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy finals took place, every player on the pitch was deserving of triumph!
The Swedish summer dazzled and music and festivities sang in the air as Special Olympics athletes took to the pitches in Heden, Gothenburg on Thursday 18 July. These final matches were a mixture of international clashes—such as Hong Kong vs. Finland—and duels between top Swedish teams. Although the athletes were certainly exhausted after an intense few days of football, every team played with energy and enthusiasm right up until the final whistle.
In Group A, Lithuania 1 clinched their second Gothia Cup win in a row when they beat Russia 2-0. Special Olympics Lithuania athlete, Lukas Jermakovas, told Gothia Cup media, “This is a great tournament, the best I’ve been on, and I hope to be back next year and go for my third win.” Meanwhile, the second Lithuanian team in Group B weren’t quite so fortunate, walking away with silver after defeat to local Swedish side Grunden BoIS blå.
The Group C finals saw two Swedish teams—Idrottsklubben Carlstad and BK Sport Mix—go head to head. When the game finished 0 – 0, Idrottsklubben Carlstad seized victory with a 7 – 6 lead on penalties. In Group D, Swedish team Långared BoIS were given a walkover after Special Olympics Germany had to leave the tournament early. “It was a little bit boring that the Germans had to leave, but it’s great that we won,” Malin Henriksson of Långared BoIS told Gothia Cup media.
Meanwhile, Group E finalists, Special Olympics Hong Kong made the long trip to Sweden worth their while when they beat Special Olympics Finland 3 – 0. Finally, in Group F. Grunden BoIS vit claimed a 4-0 victory against their Swedish counterparts Älmhults IF. At only 13 years old, Wilhelm Odhage, Grunden BoIS vit goalkeeper—who impressed the crowd with his clean sheet during the game—has many Gothia Special Olympics Trophy finals ahead of him!
The event founder, Swedish football star Kim Källström, was delighted to see the ninth edition of the tournament come to such a satisfying finish. He noted, "These past nine years have been an incredible journey, the progress and commitment from everybody involved is just so impressive. And the quality and improvements just keep getting better. I'm really looking forward to the 10th anniversary next year!"
"Integration is what this tournament is all about, and I am extremely happy that we can provide this possibility every year," Källström concluded.
For more information on the finals of the Gothia Special Olympics Trophy, founded by Kim Källström, read the Gothia Cup match report.