I was lucky enough to get invited to a Christmas party yesterday. To be honest, it was a Christmas lunch but as the afternoon went on and the festivities evolved I think the word ”party” more adequately sums up the general feeling. Hosting, was the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the UK, very professionally mastered by chairman Jan Olsson and CEO Peter Sandberg. Most of the work, however, done by the incredibly talented group of young men and women on scholarships with the Chamber. The reason I was there was that the project #elitesports2030 took part in the conference, #outerthinking, the day before. Having written about the conference, and the role of sports, already I am not going to go into that again. Instead I am focusing on the partying.
The role of the Chamber is to promote Swedish-UK relations in order to increase and help business. This could also be put in the reverse order. No matter how it is phrased, this is a long standing relationship. Sweden seems to have a good reputation, one linked to quality, nature and, overall what is perceived as sound values, in the UK. After a very nice lunch, filled with Swedish and British anecdotes, including a Swedish Lucia performance, the grand finale consists of a true Swedish success story. When the cast from Mamma Mia, the Party, enters the ballroom, they embody all the values that every politician and business person would like to be able to communicate, through being perceived as ”Swedish”. What Abba has done for the perception of Sweden abroad cannot be overestimated.
As I am travelling home the following day I am thinking that this is the role that sport has the opportunity to step into. Particularly as I remember the words of my next-door neighbour at the lunch, saying that the Sweden connection for our global companies is not all positive nowadays. The Sweden brand has been hurt by the changes of the political landscape, the increase in shootings and the overall perception of where the country is going. I think it is simply time for sport to step forward. After all,
When Sweden wins, we all win.