Norway Cup opens with a ‘Scream’

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Around 30,000 young football players from all over the world are in Oslo once again for the annual Norway Cup football match that kicked off on Sunday. As part of the weekend’s opening ceremonies, many of them assembled themselves on the plateau at Ekeberg to form the iconic image of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream.”

Participants in this year's Norway Cup youth football tournament formed an image of artist Edvard Munch's famous image "The Scream" as the annual event opened over the weekend at Ekeberg, on a plateau above the Oslo Fjord. PHOTO: The Scream from Nature project/lisewulff.com/Norway Cup

Participants in this year’s Norway Cup youth football tournament formed an image of artist Edvard Munch’s famous image “The Scream” as the annual event opened over the weekend at Ekeberg in Oslo, on a plateau above the Oslo Fjord. PHOTO: The Scream from Nature project/lisewulff.com/Tommaso Bonaventura

Munch was inspired to paint his Scream while out walking around Ekeberg, on the city’s east side, and suddenly feeling anxiety and “a large scream through the nature.” The Norway Cup tribute to Munch, the environment and the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth being celebrated in Norway this year, was the idea of Norwegian artist Lise Wulff in cooperation with environmental organization Bellona, consulting firm Pure CSR, Serbian artist Branislav Nikolic and Norway Cup organizers.

After organizing folks on the grounds where many of the Cup matches will be played, their photo was taken from a helicopter whirling overhead. More photos from the event can be seen here (external link, in Norwegian) and Wulff said that others can make their own “screams from nature” and share them on Facebook (external link). Contributions will be part of a screen show at the National Gallery in Oslo, in conjunction with its Munch 150 exhibition that runs until October 13.

Recruiting grounds
Norway Cup’s weekend opening festivities also included a parade and other festivities for the international event that also draws thousands of Norwegian youth every year. More than 1,600 teams from 55 countries will play more than 4,000 football matches during the next week. The youth football tournament has long ranked as the world’s largest and it’s also a major recruiting ground for professional football scouts keen on discovering young talent.

That’s raised some concerns and set off social media debate in recent months, after a respected football columnist in Bergen admitted that he yearned to play football as a child but ended up “crying quietly” afterwards because he was so disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to play in actual matches. Tormod Bergersen of newspaper Bergensavisen wrote in a blog last spring that “I went to every training session, and even got an award for participation.” He was bitterly disappointed, though, when he wasn’t allowed to go along on away matches, or hadn’t been allowed to play even for a minute, because he wasn’t good enough.

“A young kid begins quite early to wonder about his own worthiness when children’s football suddenly becomes ‘elite’ sport,” Bergersen wrote. That set off strong reaction from other Norwegians who said they’d had similar experiences, with overly ambitious coaches and parents ruining the game for those with marginal or little talent. Bergersen was encouraged by the reaction: “If I’ve helped one, two or 100 others, it was worth it,” he told Dagsavisen editor Eirik Hoff Lyshom over the weekend.

Important not to be sidelined
Lysholm noted that “for most, Norway Cup is fortunately one of the highlights of summer,” and that other youth who don’t play football themselves also are attracted to the event. It’s important, he argued though, that others don’t get literally sidelined at something that’s supposed to be fun.

Norway Cup’s own website notes this year that 45 girls and 48 boys who have played in Norway Cup over the years have gone on to play on Norway’s national teams. Solveig Gulbrandsen, who played a key role in getting Norway’s women’s football squad into the European Championship final on Sunday, was voted best player in the Norway Cup of 1996.

Lysholm reported that Gulbrandsen also experienced three losses in the finals. That may have been enough to make her scream at the time, and worth noting as Norway Cup play gets underway again.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund