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Power to the people of Sápmi

Can one man take a team full of local talent to new heights
Started on 22 June 2018 by ImThatSybGuy
Latest Reply on 26 June 2018 by Justice
  • POSTS15
  • VIEWS2003
Välkommen to my story. My name is Sybe van der Putten, I am 20 years old and I'm from the Netherlands. This is the story of how I got into the biggest journey of my life, maybe even known to man kind.

The story starts in the summer of 2014. I finished school and was going to university soon. I was going to do a study revolving around statistics one of my main passions, alongside Football and travelling. The first year wasn't any spectacular, however the second year I got the opportunity of a lifetime.

Being born close to Eindhoven, my favorite club was PSV Eindhoven and they offered me a chance to become a data analyst for the youth teams alongside my study. I didn't have to think twicefora chance of that stature, so I said yes. In my first year I learned every detail about the job and thought to myself: "This is what I want to do".

But things didn't exactly go to that plan. After 9 months i got offered a contract to be a data analyst for the Under-16s. I was extremely happy, I finished the season and was looking forward to returning when the season restarted.

During the summer break of 2016 I decided to go travelling, one of my other passions. I went with 6 friends to the place to be for seven 18 year olds, Sweden. We went backpacking through Sweden, starting in Stockholm. At first I didn't like the country and this was until I arrived in Umeå.

In Umeå we happened to be able to catch a match of the local female football team, a team which is considered massive in Sweden and in the rest of the world in terms of women's football.

Umeå IK, as the team is called, is a two times Champions League winning team and also reached the final on 3 other occasions. The team lost unfortunately in what was a pretty dull game.

Fast forward a few hours when me and two friend were drinking something in a local bar. I sat next to a man, who I recognised from the match I saw, he was the head coach of Umeå IK. The data analyst inside me started rambling about the match and the guy listened carefully to me. He grabbed a notepad a few minutes later and wrote most of what said down.

The pessimist inside me thought nothing about it, but Umeå IK played a few days later another match. To my surprise the coach used some of my analysis and won the game (against the same team with ease). We were about to leave the city when I got called by the coach.

After a few minutes talking he asked me if I had any interest in joining Umeå IK as assistent manager. I liked the prospect and decided to say yes to the man.
ImThatSybGuy's avatar Group ImThatSybGuy
2 yearsEdited
So there was I, in Umeå together with my girlfriend, while our 5 other friends kept backpacking through Sweden. I got offered a 1,5 year contract and decided to take it, my girlfriend had her doubts about it, but decided to follow me.

We stayed in an old cozy little flat in the centre of Umeå. Next to us lived an old couple. They showed us around the city and also taught us a lot about the history of Umeå and Sápmi.

Sápmi is an area inhabited by Sami people. The area is in the north of Sweden, Norway, Finland and even a small part of Russia. My attention got drawn to Sápmi and I started to read a lot about it.

Meanwhile I also had a job to do with Umeå IK, as an assistent manager I got the idea I was valuable to the club and the coach certainly gave me that feeling. We did fairly well in the T3 Arena and according to the head coach it was because of me. We finished the season and I went with a positive feeling into 2017.

However, my talents were discovered by Håkan Bäckström, a man known as the chairman of Umeå FC, the male team of Umeå, playing in the 3rd tier of Swedish football. After some talking I was offered the role as manager of Umeå FC.

I waited a long time but fast forward to now the 30st of January. The day i became manager of Umeå FC.
ImThatSybGuy's avatar Group ImThatSybGuy
2 yearsEdited
So, I'm now the manager of Umeå FC. The chairman thought I was the perfect man for the job. It isn't that weird of a job, however we decided to only sign players from Sápmi.

What does that mean?
It means that we're going to only sign players from Sápmi
Sápmi is the blue area of this map

Looking at the club we have five players known to be from Sápmi:
Anton Eriksson
Felix Marklund
Jens Stigedahl
Mikael Wikström
Seif Kadhim

In the months that will follow, I will try to sign more and more Sami's. In the hopes of being able to have a squad full of them by the time we'll play our first competitive game.
Interesting concept to this save! Good start to the story here and I'm interested to see how you fair. Good luck mate.
I mean, this is a challenging concept if you are to carry this on with the regional recruitment. Credit it to you for having a go, and I am sure that this will go far mate. Looking forward to more from you :)
Now this is an interesting idea. And a tough challenge as well. Good luck!
So the decision was made, Umeå FC would focus on players from Sámpi. Naturally, we had tob ring the news of the new policy tot he outside world and we decided to hold a press conference.
After many questions and a lot of information we were able to make it clear what our intention with the club is.

One of the many news articles released next was this one:

We decided to gradually fo over to all players from Sámpi. The next 3 years i’m going to slowly replace all non-Sami payers with Sami players. The first season I will incude (at least) 2 players from Sámpi, followed by 5 in the second year and finally 8 in the third year. After the third year I won’t be able to use any not Sámpi born players.
One of the other things I discussed with the chairman was youth development and youth players. We decided to let players that aren’t from Sámpi into the club if, and only if, they came from the Umeå FC academy.
I welcome you back to April 11th, just after our pre-season finished.
It has been an evenful 3 months:

I decided to completely ditch the 2 player rule for pre-season as far as I could. I decided to field as my players from Sámpi as I possibly could. However I had to do some transfer business to get in some players:

Note: Players with notes added are Sámpi-born players (H. Lunkin is a Sami as well, just forgotted to add a note)

As you can see we signed a whopping 15 players. However they are terrible, but they’re from Sámpi. I know i made a rule that I ‘only’ need two fort his season, but I thought to sign every sngle free agent from Sámpi (apart from two goalkeepers as I had three Sami goalkeepers)
I was able to sign one good player:

Linus Sahlin is a GIF Sundvall youth academy prospect who came in on a free. The young centre-back is of good quality already and has potential to him as well. I believe that he will truly be a big part of the team for the forseeable future.

He replaces Dillan Ismail, a centre-back who went to Göteborgs AIS in a 25k switch, a deal which we also secured a massive sell-on percentage.

With alle these new Sami players I was actually able to field a team full of Sami players and so I did.
Looking back at the games we won 4, lost 1 and drew 2 (not including the first game). A pretty decent start, the best result was a sneaky 2-1 win over GIF Sundvall in which Sahlin of all people scored the late winner. We lost narrowly against Finish 2nd tier side FF Jaro and we got some high-scoring wins against some teams in divisions lower then us. All while fielding a team full of Sámpi-born players.

All in all, the club with its policy grew towards a new height and we are also now capable of fielding 11 players from Sámpi.
Not a bad signing at all in Sahlin!
I agree with Justice, for the level you're at he's a very good signing. He should do a good job for you over the course of the season.
The season was about to start. I was visibly nervous. My girlfriend asked me about my worries: “What’s the matter, Sybe”. I looked up, sighed and went back to my notepad, it was not that I didn’t answer, it’s more that she wouldn’t understand. What’s the use I thought. However my girlfriend kept asking and in the end I surrendered. I told her about the fact I was nervous to play my first game in management. She, as always, did what she was good at and tried to talk some courage into me.

The fact is I wasn’t nervous to manage in the game, but I didn’t want to go off to a losing start, but that was a hard challenge. We are playing Västerås FF, one of the favorites to go up, while we are lucky if we can survive this season.

I was right, my girlfriend didn’t understand. However she told me not to worry. In a cocktail of emotions I told her: “Thanks for nothing”.

It was the night before the game and I couldn’t get any sleep. Pretty understable given the circumstances. My girlfriend was asleep and I decided to go for an evening walk. I strolled around the streets of Umeå until I stopped before the bar I met the head coach of Umeå IK, the female football team, also now to me known as Sven.

I order a beer and looked through my notebook one last time, maybe two last times or three. I was filled with anger and fear, which affected my thinking, although that could’ve been alcohol as well.
About to leave a man came sitting next to me. He took away my notebook and told me: “You don’t need this”. I immediately turned my head, recognising the voice of Sven. Sven ordered two small beers and we started talking. He told me about his first game in management, a 5-0 loss. Confused by the story I asked him what he wanted to prove with the story. Sven took a sip of his beer and said: “No matter what is going to be result of your game tomorrow, there will always be a next one.”

Still a bit confused by the meaning of this, I finished my beer, walked back to my apartment and laid down next to my girlfriend. My girlfriend had her eyes closed and whispered: “What did Sven tell you?” I jumped out of bed and asked how she knew I talked with Sven. She replied: “Because I called him, silly”. “U-uh. How? What?” where all the words my mouth produced. Emily,my girlfriend, got up and told me about earlier. She knew that I thought talking to her was a complete waste of my time, but she also knew that talking to someone that does understand is helpful.

So, she called Sven told him that he can meet me at the bar it all began and so he did. I looked at my girlfriend and said to her: “Thanks, for everything”, something I sincerely meant. “Get some rest, you have a big day tomorrow.” Was all that she replied.

And I did just that. I got some hours of sleep in and I got up early. I went to the club to go tot he Västerås by bus. A few hour drive it was from Umeå. The tension was high in the group, some people were talking in the back and I was silent, doing what I did back when I was at Umeå IK, watching video footage of our opponents. When we were nearing our destination I spoke tot he players. Of course some of the usual stuff was said, some words of encouragement, the lineup and how I wanted to play. But I also said to my players, the one thing I learned from my years in coaching, every team is beatable and every team is unbeatable at the same time. We have tob e the unbeatable today and we got to show that they are beatable.

The words got through to the players, although some where confused. I didn’t say anything in particular anymore and the players were questioning what I said.

We arrived at the stadium, the players got dressed, I said what I had to day and we’d start the warming up. I got some phone calls from family and friends back home, before the game and also got approached by two people. Sven and my girlfriend, they drove all the way down to support me. I was happy with the gesture, but a game had to be played.

We lined up our strongest 11, including 5 Sami players and were about to play the 2nd best team in the league. We were the complete underdogs, but dog scan bark and bite nastily. Exactly what i wanted to show.

45 minutes later and we went from Bulldogs to Chihuahuas, we were all over the place and got pinned down in our own area. We had no control over the bal land we had no chance at all, we had one positive we were still at 0-0, somehow.

I was completely shocked by the display and was about to go talk some courage into the players when I realised that they actually were playing very well. Not conceding is also an accomplishment in some way. I told the players, who were tired by the intense first half that they played very well. They looked unbeatable today. Which was the case, because every attack our opponents had we kept out.

It was during the second half I realised that I was right. The players looked unbeatable, not because of fluent attacking football, Pep-like Tiki Taka, Heavy-metal football, Klopp-style, but because we played as a team, determined to win.

After 80 minutes the realisation struck to me, Sven told me, that I needed to approach this match as a data analyst to win this game, which I did. I analysed the game, our team, their team and saw what I didn’t before. A way to make from the Chihuahua’s the Pitbulls. I told some of my players a way to win the game.

Skip ahead to the 86th minute when my late analysis got us a penalty. A penalty in the 86th minute to win the game, create an upset and get off to a winning start. I swear to got those 6 seconds it took to run up tot he ball, where 6 seconds to much, but what a happiness followed.

Mårtensson send the goalkeeper the wrong way and put the ball into the net. Umeå FC 1, Våsteräss 0. I was filled with happines, until I realised there were 7 more minutes to play. I saw the ball coming into our area, followed by some of the most passionate defending known to man kind. In an attempt to keep the scores 1-0, which was succesful.

“We did it! We did it!” I shouted. The players and I partied as if we just won the Champions League, but we didnt care. We di dit. The bus ride back home was completely different, beer, happy players and music were all part of it.

It went on until the very moment I was back home, where I saw Emily watching some TV. Not only did the party which was going on in my head stop, but it was then I realised that I won the game or better said we won the game.

Emily got up, gave me a kiss and asked me: “Could you do that again next week.” I told her: “I don’t know, but we’ll certainly try.”
Sven is a hero. We need more Sven's in the world.
Välkommen back. We finally meet again, it’s been two months already since we last met. Summer is coming upon us and I’ll talk you through how we have been getting on. It’s the 11th of June and we’re nearing the halfway point. When we last met I just won my first game in professional football. A start of something great I thought.

Time has been flying, but I think it’s a good time to calm down and reflect upon our past results:

As you may be able to see we’ve played 9 games so far, including our 0-1 win against Västerås in the first game.

The first game was against Carlstad, which was a tough game to handle for us. We were the better side, but just like our match against Västerås that gives no guarantees. We got down after 9 minutes and after Lander douled the scored after an hour of play we were doomed. Bbakka was able to pull one back late, but it was too little, too late.

Next up we looked for redemption against Enskede IK, we started out really well and Sámpi-born Wikström gave us the lead after 39 minutes. Which was also the score going into the break. Enskede however pulled themselves together and managed to grab 4 in the second half, including two penalties along the way.

Our fourth game of the season was against direct rivals Sollentuna FK and, despite being said tob e a tough match we came at them and gave them no chance. A goal just before halftime from striker Mårtensson helpe dus along our way, before Wikström finished it off in the 78th minute. A good solid win.

Nyköpings were our next opponent and this was, based on the game itself, at the time, our best performance to date, however two late goals saw Nyköpings snatch a lucky win away from us.

After the heartbreak we had to get some points again, this time against Akropolis IF. A tense game looked like finsihing in anti-climactic 0-0 draw, befor Wikström produced some magic and scored the winning goal in the 92nd minute.

We wanted to keep the streak going against Assyriska, which we did. A solid defensive display helped us beat the Södertälje-based team 2-1. Bbakka and Wikström both scored goals in the first half and put the game to bed early. A late goal by Nyang sparked some hope for Assyriska, but we professionaly played out the game to walk away with 3 points.

In hopes of making it three in a row we played Sandvikens. In a game that was a real 6-pointer no team looked like wanting to win. A dull game looked like going in favour of the visitors until centre-back Sillah scored a late equalizer.

Finally we have a game against relegation-threatened IFK Luleå. Once again it looked like the visitors would grab a win, until 21-year old Yoon Soo Yong score dan amazing volley to tie up the game, which would also decide the final score.

League table:
As you can see we’re doing excatly what we were asked to do, finish mid-table. However the worrying thing is that we haven’t really played any of the top tier teams yet.

Positives and negatives
First of all the negatives:
- We have failed to win games we dominate
- We have conceded to many dumb goals (Pens, mistakes, etc.)
- Linus Sahlin has been one of our worst players

And on a positive note:
- We have been able to play at least 4 Sámpi-born players, while i had to play 2
- We came back from losing positions to grab points multiple time
- Mikael Wikström has been in fantastic form
- We’ve won games we didn’t deserve to win
- Our finishing has, at times, been fantastic

Already mentioned is our player of this period: Mikael Wikström.
With 4 goals, out of which 3 game-winning goals, Wikström has been more than vital to our success

Thoughts of the manager:
It’s been an eventful few games. We’ve shown two faces out on the field. At times we look unbeatable and our build-up play has been fantastic, but at times we can’t seem to make 2 yard passes.

Switching to a regular 442 after 3 games has done the tricking, after realising a 4-2-2-2 doesn’t suit our team.

Being able to field 5 players of Sámpi most of the time has been really positive and promising, but I have to watch out it won’t cost me games.

Sahlin has despite his great talent been disappointing so far in defense with Sillah, the two can’t seem to get along, but being by far the best centre-backs I have is putting me in a tough position.

All this taken into consideration i’m happy with our place in the league table at the moment. We were tipped for relegation and have shown that we’re not going down without a fight (if we even go down).
Manchester United vs Manchester City, Liverpool vs Everton, AC Milan vs Inter Milan, Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid and Umeå FC vs Team TG FF.

“All those matches have one thing in common”I told Emily. “They’re football teams”my girlfriend replied. I expained to her what the common theme between these matches are, the fact that they’re all games between two teams from the same club. My girlfriend, more focussed on her television, her phone and our dinner she was cooking, asked: “So, why are you telling me this.”

I sighed and explained, once again, how tommorow was my first derby day. We would play Team TG FF at home in the T3 Arena. My girlfriend still not understanding asked me what the big deal was.

I explained how these games are some of the biggest rivalries are in football and how winning would give all our fans bragging rights for the next few months. Emily, who either still didn’t understand or simply didnt care, told me about how cool that was.

I was at a loss for words and realised that explaining it for a third time, wouldn’t be useful at all. So i ran outside and walked toward my good friend Sven. Me and Sven have kept contact throughout the season, because it’s nice to be with someone you like and who is as passionate about something as you are.

Sven welcomed me into his house and asked me everything he could possibly ask. “Are you ready”, “How are you going to play” and “Do you think you can handle the pressure” were a few of th questions I remember beng asked by an overexcited Sven.

While I didn’t answer most of his questions, he made me realise one thing: This is nor ordinary game.
Which was confirmed later on when I walked back home and got recognised by fans for the first time. All asking me to win the big game tomorrow. It was a moment of joy, pride but also fear. It was nice to be recognised, but the pressure on me intensified.

I came back home and sat down to Emily, who just finished preparing dinner. She asked me why I lef tand I told her how I wanted to talk to Sven, because, like I said, it’s nice to be around someone like you. Emily saw I was getting more and more nervous every minute went by and tried to talk me out of it: “Don’t worry, you got this, you’re the best. Treat it like every other game and you will win.”

These words of encouragement didn’t get through to me and I just let those words escape my brain. She knew that I did just that, but she didn’t do anything about it.

That was last night, now it’s the morning before the game and i’ve waken up, finished my breakfest not to long ago and I’m looking forward to today. I’ve made sure I had some tricks up my sleeve for today and was ready to win.

A few hours later I arrived at the stadium, met with some press just before that and then went to see my players. We were going to play in a completely different manner. Because special games call for special measure. With an hour before kick-off I walked into the stadium and saw the largest crowd I’ve seen so far. Thousands of people were watching, looking at me it felt like. Impressed by the situations I let my usual self out and let emotions get to me.

“This is it.” I tell myself “Win this, you’ll be loved, lose this and they want you gone.” I suddenly realised the importance of the match and I call the entire team for a final talk.

We start off in a way I couldn’t even dare to dream off. Mårtensson scores after 23 seconds. Being 1-0 up, I thought pressure would fade away. But how wrong was I. We were getting battered, resuling in a 1-1 scoreline after 45 minutes after Stigedal score dan own goal.

My special tactics, which I thought of so long were in one word: terrible. We can’t get anything going I thought and, despite me wanting to think in a positive manner, I know I am fooling myself if I tell myself anything else.

Despite getting battered I approach the team talk during the break differently. I tell my players exactly what I want to tell myself: “Relax, everything is going to be all right.” I didn’t tell a lot more besides this and telling the players to return to the usual tactic.

I was watching the 2nd half when suddenly my girlfriend’s words flew through my brain, she was right, I need to take the game like any other games. The pressure on me faded away during the second half and I start coaching with a big smile on my face, like usual. The smile only grew after the 57th minute, when Bbakka scored the 2-1.

My smile and happiness grew alongside the time on the clock and after 90 minutes I was filled with joy. “We did it” were the simple words I spoke after the match to the team, “We did it.”

We were able to beat all the odds and beat our local rivals 2-1. While that was a good result, I learned something more valuable then those 3 points, believe in your self and your team and the rest will follow.
Big win, very well done!

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