Golfer Per Ulrik Johansson. Photo:Mikhail Metzel/Scanpix
Life after retirement for Swedish sports stars

Swedish sports stars go back to school

"We provide them with a toolbox to go out there on their own"
7:15 min

Some famous names in Swedish sport are going back to school. Hockey star Peter Forsberg, footballer Mathias Jönsson and biathlete Magdalena Forsberg were in the first intake of sports stars to take a business class at the Johan Cruyff Institute for Sports Studies in Stockholm. Two-time Ryder Cup golf star Per-Ulrik Johansson is in the latest class, one of a number of names in Swedish sport to take on a new challenge following retirement.  

While the debate goes on as to whether Swedes in the future should work into their late sixties before taking their pensions, for those at elite level in sport, retirement can often come before the age of forty. Some may never need to work again while others are not so fortunate.

However, irrespective of financial means, all sportsmen and women do share one common bond - the need to fill the void left after years of competition.

The Johan Cruyff Institute for Sports Studies, opened an office in Stockholm in 2011 to go alongside courses already on offer in Amsterdam, Madrid, Mexico, Barcelona and Malaysia.

The 11-month course runs in conjuction with the Stockholm School of Economics and provides education within business leadership management for not only sports stars but those working within sports administration. Anders Sewerin is founder and head of the Sports Institute in Stockholm and tells Radio Sweden why sports stars such as Peter Forsberg have taken the course. 

"Most of them are stars or heroes, Peter is interested in taking care of his investments and for those reasons he is interested in business issues, and we have others who are interested in leaderships issues," he tells Radio Sweden.

"A lot of athletes are entreprenuers, they want to do their own stuff and what we do is provide them with a tool box to go out on their own and quite a few of them, who have completed the course, have gone on to set up their own business".

Footballer Mathias Jönson hung up his boots in 2011 after a 20-year playing career. The 39-year-old is now a key account manager at Ricoh having sucessfully completed his business course.

"I had the opportunity to go back to school to study leadership and economics and I was quite prepared to start a new life without football but it is not easy after a long career," he tells Radio Sweden.

During his time studying, he says he found that business and sport share many common characteristics.

"I learned a lot about leadership. Many things with leadership in football are similar to leadership in business and I learned that if you don't have passion in leadership, whether it is sport or business, without the passion, it is hard to get your teammates to perform to their maximum".  

Not all sportsmen can choose when they retire. 46-year-old Swedish golfer Per-Ulrik Johasson, who featured in two Ryder Cups was forced to give up the profesional circuit due to a persistent hip injury.

From one course to another, he has a few months left in his class with the Cruyff Institute in Stockholm and tells Radio Sweden that he has learned a great deal that can be put to good use.

"With my experience from professional sport, I think if I can bring that same motivation and personality into the business world, then that will be great. I think if you have been involved in sport at an elite level and you become involved in something else later, you are going to put in that same passion and desire you had in sport into your new career".

Dave Russell

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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