Barents girl power
Kaja Bergersen (13) and Alva Köhler (14) are looking intense at each other before they start throwing and pinning each other down on the mat. It`s just a matter of seconds before one of them will be announced the winner of the final match in weight class 48.
Wrestling is predominantly a male sport, but 30 girls from all over the Barents Region found their way to Kirkenes on Saturday to prove that notion wrong.
The October Championship is a golden opportunity for the girls to measure strength with other girls from the region.
“Obviously it`s cool to win, especially against Kaja. She is really a very talented wrestler,” says Alva from Gällivare in Northern Sweden.
“The match was hard, equal and good,” she summarizes.
Popular among girls
According to Alva wrestling has become more popular among girls the last couple of years. “That gives me better competitors,” she says, underlining that it gives her the necessary motivation to work on technique and strength.
120 youth from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia travelled for hours to be able to participate in the competition in Northern Norway.
“It was a long journey, but it was so worth it,” says Alva, emphasizing that this is the first international championship she is competing in.
Dreaming about the Olympics
Sergey Chemeris (7) from Snezhnogorsk in Northwest-Russia is running out of the wrestling court. He just lost against Leo Nordberg from Tana in Northern Norway.
“It was boring to lose, but I still think I have one more chance to win, “says an optimistic Sergey. He has been wrestling for five years and has visited the neighbors in Norway three times already.
“My biggest dream is to participate in the Olympics,” says Sergey, typing his grandmother`s phone number on his cell phone. She has tried to reach him, wondering how the matches turned out.
Sergey`s buddy Yaroslav (7) is plopping down beside him on the bench.
“The Norwegian wrestlers are ferly good, but of course the Russians are best,” he says, grinning cheerfully.
Listen to your coach
To become a really good wrestler in Russia you have to exercise every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And swim on Sundays, Yarolsav says.
“Of course you have to listen to your coach too,” Sergey adds.
“And obviously not drink Coke and eat chips,” says Yarolsav laughing and pointing at the coke he is hiding between his thighs.
The boys agree that the most exciting thing is to play with the other kids when being abroad.
“We don`t care where they come from. We play with everybody,” says Sergey.
The October Championship was supported with 75 000 NOK by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat.
Text and photos: Anja Salo/ BarentsObserver