deaf, Football, Fruången, groundhopping, IFK Hephata, Malarhojdens IP, Mälarhöjden, Non League, Stockholm, Sweden
Monday 4th June 2018 ko 19.30
Division 5 Stockholm
IK HEPHATA 1 ( Radhe 17)
SKOGÅS/ TRÅNGSUND A.I.K. 0
Att 19 at Mälarhöjdens IP
The metro train trundled south-west on the red line heading towards its terminus at Fruängen. Robyn was looking at the route map above the door,
“So it’s all the way to Fruängen then catch the 163 bus to the ground?” she half-asked, half told.
She was absolutely correct, but the time she’d spent interrogating the map she missed the train stopping at Hägerstensåsens. That was where’d watched Hägersten SK, her first Swedish football match. I pondered all that had changed since then.
I remembered Robyn’s first trip to Sweden back then. It was a massive step into the unknown for her to the extent that she didn’t leave my side that day! Everything changes, and people grow in so many ways, but a running theme of our relationship over the last 2 years has been just how much I’ve thrown at Robyn and how quickly she’s learned from it. Her confidence has grown to the extent that she also wondered why we didn’t catch the 13 branch of the red line to Mälarhöjden? (Fruängen station was closer!)
We reached Fruängen and climbed down from the highest station platform on the Stocklom T-Bana network. The bus dropped us off about 400 yards from the ground in one of those residential areas that has little in the way of pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues so after the evening rush hour the place looked deserted. The translation of the name Fruängen is Lady’s meadow, and so all the streets here are named after famous Swedish women!
Those who were on the 2nd Swedish Hop may remember Fruängen, the first game was a little further west at Sätra IP. We would have passed Mälarhöjdens IP on the main road out there to get to the game that caused some consternation at the lack of corner flags!
There were no such issues here, although the ground is clearly in the throes of a massive reconstruction. It was no issue watching from the raised area by the changing rooms or for that matter simply walking pitchside! Doing the latter did allow me to spot something unusual about the hosts.
Virtually every player in the Hephata team seemed to be profoundly deaf, and a little research revealed a club with roots all the way back to 1892. That makes them the 3rd oldest multi-sports club in Sweden behind the Stockholm twins of A.I.K. and Djurgården and the world’s oldest sports club for the deaf. Whilst the inability to hear wouldn’t stop anyone playing football, I did wonder how it might impact playing a team with the advantage of being able to hear? How much of a disadvantage would it be?
The answer was very little. The hosts tended to communicate by sign language, but that didn’t stop a question that noone has asked being answered! Yes a player who can’t speak can be booked for dissent. While the player’s words may not be distinct the meaning certainly was and the referee acted accordingly.
If we’d had been watching this game as part of a huge boisterous crowd, I don’t think we’d have picked up on the deafness of our hosts. In any case it really wasn’t really relevant, we turned up to watch a game of football, and we were well entertained on our evening out.
And in the final analysis I suspect that’s exactly how IK Hephata would want it.