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Duluth Hosts Swedish Players in Soccer Exchange

Updated: 06/23/2014 10:29 PM
Created: 06/23/2014 10:17 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
blesavage@wdio.com

About 64 Swedish soccer players arrived in Duluth Sunday as part of an international soccer exchange for Duluth and Vaxjo, Sweden teens.

This summer marks the 16th Duluth-Vaxjo Soccer Exchange, which allows players to experience a different culture through soccer by sending four teams to their Sister City each summer. This year, Duluth players are hosting the Swedes for the two-week program. Board of Directors member Cindy Hedstrom said it’s a great experience for the players.

“It's really just a great opportunity for these kids to experience another culture,” Cindy Hedstrom said. “It's great when you can go and travel, but it makes the experience even better when you can actually go and live with the host family and you get to see how that family does life.”

Last summer, Duluth players traveled to Sweden, so a picnic on Park Point Monday was a sweet reunion for many.

“We've been waiting for this for so long, so it's a very good time to spend with your friends,” Moa Hallerboig, a Swedish soccer player, said.

Cindy Hedstrom said all the players immediately have soccer in common, but soon find out that there’s much more to their similarities.

"Soccer is kind of the common thread. they all play soccer they all have an interest in soccer but it's so much more than that,"

Cindy Hedstrom’s son, Daniel Hedstrom, said he has not only learned about himself through participating in the program, but has learned a lot about how his Swedish friends live as well.

“What I’ve learned is really what the kids do there,” Daniel Hedstrom said. “They just want to have fun just like us American kids do.”

While in the Minnesota, the players will travel to the Twin Cities to visit both the Mall of America and Valleyfair, take in the Duluth scenery and play in a three-day soccer tournament toward the end of their visit.

Duluth and Vaxjo, Sweden players hold their respective country's flag during the 2012 Duluth-Vaxjo Soccer Exchange tournament.

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