Sweden's national forward Pernilla Winberg, currently playing in the Swedish SDHL for Linköping HC, can already look back on these and other successes. Unfortunately, her impressive career is not the current occasion for this interview she kindly agreed to; for some years the Swedish national team has been going downhill.
It's the shocking background to the decline of Damkronorna, whose players not only had to play with men's jerseys, but also had to endure many other impositions for several years.
Pernilla, on August 14th, all 43 Swedish A-national players under the hashtag #FörFramtiden (#ForTheFuture) had declared that they would refuse to participate in the 5-Nations Tournament in Finland, which recently ended. What were the main reasons?
Pernilla Winberg: We want the future to be better for women’s hockey and get what we deserve to develop and be able to compete on the highest level. We need to get some sort of money when we are away, in order to survive when we get back home from tournaments, since we are normally working during the week. We also just want respect from the federation SIF and that they treat us like professionals, and that they have a plan for us to succeed! Both by showing interest and actually having a good travel schedule for us to be able to do well.
First #FörFramtiden declaration from August 14, 2019
One month before your disappointing 7th rank at the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang you had to return from a tournament in Finland by taking the Saturday night ferry to Stockholm. And from there you had to continue travelling within Sweden. How many hours did it take from door to door?
Pernilla Winberg: It took approx. one and a half days to travel, instead of a one-hour flight and two-hour train ride for me to go to Linköping.
You have very often received nutrition products whose expiry dates were exceeded – sometimes even by several months, although the SIF has sponsors in this field. How did you take care of yourself then?
Pernilla Winberg: We sometimes bring our own stuff or get bananas or other easy access nutrition.
When did these problems start? Did this happen abruptly, or was it a gradual process of deterioration?
Pernilla Winberg: It has been a gradual process probably for the past 9 years.
The team has decried these issues towards the SIF repeatedly – how did they respond to your complaints in the past?
Pernilla Winberg: They just said they would look into it, but we never heard anything about it again. After that, every time we tried to discuss different things, and they said there is nothing they can do.
What are your demands?
Pernilla Winberg: Just to be respected and that they want us to succeed! To give us a goal to work towards, with the right tools to work with. And not to see us as a burden, and not to give us minimal resources only.
Do you have an explanation why both President Anders Larsson and Secretary General Tommy Boustedt were apparently surprised by the situation?
Pernilla Winberg: No, I think they were surprised since they never took the time to understand us. Thus, it obviously must be surprising they heard about us.
What is your opinion about their reaction?
Pernilla Winberg: I’m surprised it took so long for them to understand the situation and how severe it is. But when everyone started supporting us and faced the truth, I think they also realize that this is nothing we can push aside anymore.
At the first meeting, SIF, the players union SICO, the women’s league SDHL and two players, Erika Grahm and Johanna Fällman, sat together at the same table. How do you judge this first meeting as well as the one last Thursday?
Pernilla Winberg: I think it’s slowly progressing, and the parties begin to understand each other. But we don’t know much yet, since nothing has been solved. However, they have opened to listen to us, and that’s very important.
Second #FörFramtiden declaration from August 16, 2019
What are the next steps?
Pernilla Winberg: Waiting for them to understand how important this is, and show us a plan that works with us and not against us.
Is there any chance to return to an atmosphere of trust and cooperation at all?
Pernilla Winberg: Yes, of course! We have to believe that they want the best for us, but also make sure we are working in the right direction and not backwards.
What were the reactions of players from other countries towards #FörFramtiden? And how did the male players react?
Pernilla Winberg: It has really been positive, and we have experienced a lot of support around the world from different people. Even NHL players support us and understand that we need the tools to be successful and that we deserve it.
When you look ahead, where should Swedish women’s ice hockey be in the Olympic year 2022? And how do you want to be treated?
Pernilla Winberg: I think we can only go up from here, and now it’s time to make a good plan to be successful in all the different areas and start getting good results on the ice as well. You always need the right tools to succeed.
Pernilla, thank you very much for taking time for us. We wish you all success and hope to see you again at the 4-Nations Tournament in Füssen, Germany from December 12th to 15th.