After 39 years as the widely acclaimed “general” of Norway Cup, the world’s biggest youth football tournament that ended over the weekend, Frode Kyvåg has left the playing fields for good. He says he’s not ready for the bingo parlor yet, though, and is already hatching a new career in Oslo city politics.
“As chief of the Norway Cup, I’ve had to tone down my political engagement,” Kyvåg told newspaper Dagsavisen. “But everyone knows I’m a social democrat. So the Labour Party said that I might as well sign up as a member, and now I’m a candidate for city council (bystyret).”
He added that if Labour wins the upcoming municipal election in Oslo on September 14, and Labour’s candidate Raymond Johansen takes control of Oslo’s city government (byrådet), “maybe I’ll be part of that gang.”
Kyvåg will turn 70 in September, just a week before the election is held, but age is not an issue either for him or Labour. He says he’s in good shape, claiming that he hasn’t had an alcoholic drink for 20 years, cycles regularly and far (5,000 kilometers a year), eats well and stopped smoking when he became the father of twins 14 years ago.
He was nonetheless sad about giving up his top role at Norway Cup, and various local media outlets reported that his departure wasn’t entirely amicable. He confirmed to Dagsavisen that he felt overlooked when the committee charged with finding his replacement didn’t involve him in the process. “I would gladly have been part of finding a new secretary general for Norway up,” he said. “I believe that I have a certain amount of insight on the matter.”
He said he and the sports club he coached, Bækkelaget, agreed three years ago that he would resign in 2015. “It would be more correct to say that I’m quitting against the wishes of the employees and sponsors,” he told Dagsavisen.”
But he did walk off the field at Ekeberg on Saturday after another weeklong tournament in which 32,000 youngsters from all over the world played football. “The word ‘sad’ doesn’t begin to cover what I feel, I can’t find a better word to attach to the feeling than ‘strange,'” he said. “I’m mentally prepared, but I’m an emotional person.”
He was likely to bounce back quickly, as the local election campaign cranks into full gear. He has some clear ideas about how sports should be organized and wants to move it out of the city agency in charge of the environment and transportation. He thinks young athletes playing for local sports clubs can get involved in elder care, another issue high on his priority list, simply by taking elderly people out for walks and getting fresh air.
Kyvåg is expected to get a lot of the popular vote on September ballots. He also said he’s had several job offers. “I have thoughts, ideas and feelings, and I hope I can continue making speeches, because I get a lot of joy out of that,” he told newspaper Aftenposten. One thing was clear: Kyvåg won’t be retiring any time soon.