Lukas Andersson Männikkö and Viktoria Andersson from Halmstad, Sweden, have played their first games in Boden’s colors, met their first students as teachers and after-school counselors and admired their first northern lights. After moving 140 miles across Sweden, they are now discovering the local life of Boden.
I mean, we basically have everything within 400 meters, says Lukas with a gesture towards the living room window in the couple’s bright and beautiful apartment in central Boden. Within easy walking distance of their new home, they can reach work, gyms, fitness centers and shopping in minutes. It is almost as if they have considered whether they need a car.
– We didn’t know much about Boden and I thought it would be less. But there is so much here. And it can feel far to drive here from southern Sweden, but by plane we are only an hour away,” says Lukas.
Lukas Andersson Männikkö and Viktoria Andersson are avid handball fans who were attracted to the sport they are both passionate about. For Lukas, this is the second time that sport has taken him to a new place in Sweden. Sports high school led him to leave Borlänge for Halmstad as a teenager. After a number of years as both player and coach in Halmstad, and also as an instructor at Idrottsgymnasiet, he was offered the job of coach for BBK Handboll’s division 1 men in Boden.
– I was hungry for something new and heard through mutual contacts that Boden was looking for a new coach in BBK Handboll.
BBK Handboll is one of the largest handball clubs in Norrland. They run activities for girls and boys aged six and above. With more than 300 active participants in 20 teams from handball school to senior and exercise teams, they are also one of Boden’s largest sports clubs.
– It is a serious association with a good spirit. They are really investing and it’s fun to be involved in making a difference,” says Lukas, who is wholeheartedly committed to his new mission.
Viktoria has played handball all her childhood and was one of HK Drott Halmstad’s strong names on the women’s side.
Even before moving to Boden, she was offered trial training in Boden’s other handball club, Boden Handboll. They focus entirely on their only team, a women’s team that debuted in the 2016/2017 season in the highest league, Svensk Handbollselit, and now plays in Damallsvenskan.
The opportunity to try something new was timely in the couple’s joint plans. Victoria had just graduated as a teacher. Lukas had only the graduate job left in his teaching studies. However, he decided to take a break to focus fully on his new coaching role and job.
As soon as they started to look at Boden, it became clear that Boden has much more than driven sports clubs with strong teams that want to develop. It is also undergoing a social transformation with job and career opportunities in many different professions.
Lukas got a job as a recreation and sports teacher at the Nobla independent school in Boden. The pedagogy from the teacher’s college and the leadership experience from previous coaching assignments comes in handy in the role as a coach both at school and on the handball field.
Viktoria got a teaching position at the Prästholm municipal school in Boden. This is her first job as a teacher and she speaks highly of the first graders she has taken under her wing.
Lukas and Viktoria are definitely not bored in Boden. They train four weekday evenings a week, work during the day and play matches at weekends.
– Some days we wake up together and then see each other when we go to bed again,” laughs Viktoria, who often spends early mornings at the gym before work.
They have not yet had time to do much more than settle into their jobs and training and get to know their team and colleagues. But the hope is to take advantage of what Boden has to offer.
– Above all, we are looking forward to discovering winter and all the things to do here with snowmobiles, skis and nature.
Both describe the reception in Boden as very positive and “as good as it gets”. Through both work and sport, they have been quickly welcomed and introduced to Boden. Colleagues and associations have provided initial valuable hospitality and become a grateful door opener into society and lifestyle.
– “There is a bit of a family feeling in the team when several of us come from other places,” explains Viktoria, who also has a former handball player as a teaching colleague at work.
The biggest goals for Lukas and Viktoria are still the handball goals. They look forward to doing their best in both clubs, reaching higher divisions, offering Boden really good handball and getting even more people to put Boden on the Swedish handball map.
TEXT: ANNA BERGSTRÖM