More diversity sought in Swedish hockey

5:20 min

There are some 80,000 hockey players in Sweden but their makeup is mostly white and male, something the Swedish Ice Hockey Association wants to change.

Tommy Boustedt, head of Sweden's Ice Hockey Association, says the sport needs to be open and fun to attract minority players and women.

"It's important to us as a sport and a sport association to be open for people from everywhere," he tells Radio Sweden.

The association commissioned a report that looked at local clubs in Sweden and studied what they were doing to recruit and retain a more diverse range of players.

Called Hockey 2025, the report points out the city of Lund as an inspiring example. The club strives to create an open atmosphere and tries to make low-cost equipment available through running flea markets or loaner programs to young players who are still testing the waters.

Ann Edberg is the report's author and says clubs need to reach out into their local communities to open the sport to anyone who wants to play.

"They need to work where they are and also get inspiration and cooperation," she tells Radio Sweden.

One hockey fan working on the problem is Mats Sundin, a former professional hockey player both in Sweden and Canada and he now runs a camp just north of Stockholm that teaches children with an immigrant background how to play the sport. The two-day camp provides all the needed gear and begins with the basics, like how to skate.

Still, Sundin says hockey needs to learn how to compete for attention in a world filled with distractions for young would-be players.

"Today the kids have a thousand different things to choose between and hockey needs to keep having a presence and being a main sport in Sweden," Sundin says.