“Whoever is Merlin right now, then you are doing a horrible job and need to leave right now! We’re going to lose because of you.”
If you so happen to be walking on the third floor of Tower Village on a Saturday night, there is a distinct possibility you would hear someone yelling this out the opened window or have been woken up from you sleep from a phrase like this. And by phrase like this, it means that exact phrase with three or four different expletives that would get Tipper Gore’s colorful suits in a bunch.
Fredrik Karlsson is a 29 year old Swedish student who is a semester away from achieving his political science degree and played football in his home country as well as play wide receiver and on the kickoff team for the Club Football team. Aside from football, he also is the goalkeeper for intramural soccer, though every Saturday night, his face lights up like a child on Christmas when we play the game Avalon. The opening quote illustrates the amount of passion he generates playing. He also lives about four to five steps from my door.
Coming to the United States to work on his political science major, Fredrik talked about the reasoning behind coming to UNCG and how this year particularly helped in his major.
“UNCG was not my first choice but I’m glad I came here. I wanted to study political science in either the US or Canada. My home university had five different agreements in North America, this was one of them, so you just apply for all of them” he said.
He also described how the election itself pushed him to come here specifically.
“They gave me this choice and do you know why they pick here? (because of political science) They knew, and I’m thankful for that, that North Carolina was a swing state and I major in political science and they said if you go here, it would be the best choice. They (Clinton and Trump) were here all the time for rallies.”
During the conversation, Fredrik described getting into football as a child and how he joined his professional team in Sweden, which he continues to play for.
“I played in a club team for kids, like when I was ten or twelve. Then I stopped playing because, well life. But when I was 22, there was a new team starting up and I drove out there one day and said I played before” Fredrik said.
“It ended up I was one of the few players who played before and knew the rules. I played there for a couple years. The first season, we played ten games and lost all of them. I noticed, we were in the lowest division in Sweden, that I was better than everyone else, so I got picked up by a professional league I’ve played there for the past three years.”
However, in the first game of this past season, Fredrik went down with a season ending leg injury that took until mid August to rehab back to full strength. Just in time to join the newly formed club football team here on campus. He describes the difference between American club and Swedish Pro football.
“The talent in this team here, the individual talent, is better. More players that played the sport since they were kids while our players start late. We have hockey and soccer, so players start playing football later usually” he explained.
“There is more technique here, but more size and strength in Sweden. I’m over 190 lbs. I’m a small receiver in Sweden, but I was the biggest receiver here. And I’m usually pretty fast back home, but I wasn’t here. Here it’s more speed and less power and strength, at least at the skill positions.”
With the semester coming to an end, Fredrik is about a month away to returning to Sweden. He talks about his goals upon going home.
“They will bring out football in early January and then we start playing games in late March. I do not have a contract right now, but that shouldn’t be a problem, so I’m going do at least one more there. I have one more semester when I get home, then I will begin on my masters.”
July 6 was the first time we spoke to each other. Both of us were visiting siblings in the United States (though he were separated by thousands of miles, he was in California and I was in Maryland). And with his time in the US coming to an end, all I can say is that thanks to my Swedish roommate, I now spend Saturday nights playing a board game that was previously unknown to me last year.