Monday, April 12, 2010

Charity is Good for the Soul and for the Hurricanes!

I slept very well last night after the very positive day of the Frederikssund Oaks scrimmage but Monday was another day with another adventure in store for me.

I was summoned to the town of Bjärnum, about 20 minutes by bus from Hässleholm, to meet Jonas "God Father" Grip on his home turf. Now in Sweden, soccer/fotboll teams have long names that are shortened to initials, probably to fit better in newspaper headlines. Thus Mjällby AIF is just MAIF and Helsingborg IF is merely HIF.

With this as a backdrop, from now on it is just JGFG for our team's emotional leader.

I got to Bjärnum a little early so I decided to explore.


I had to check this one out.

Here we go again!

This rustic church was the only thing I could find in the direction the arrow pointed.

Beach Soccer/Fotboll

I was informed that JGFG would meet me in this secluded out of the way place.

Was I being set up for a possible hit?

Nope, JGFG drove up in his car with a large trailer in tow. We were off to Sweden's second biggest city, Göteborg, population 500,000.

Driving the trailer towing speed limit of 80 kmh (50 mph), it took us about three hours to get there.

Why with a trailer you ask? Well that is a long story but well worth it to the 'Canes.

In late November, during one of my SKYPE conversations with Uffe Palmbrink, he mentioned that the team really needed more equipment but could not afford to buy much because of Europe's very high prices for American football gear. I told him that I would see what I could do from my end.

I sent out a quick e-mail to all of the head coaches in the Ventura County Football Coaches Association asking if they could donate some of their helmets, shoulder pads, footballs, practice pads, etc., that they could spare. I even mentioned specific numbers we needed of each item.

Within two days we had TWICE AS MANY helmets and shoulder pads as we requested! I got more and more calls and soon my garage was packed with football gear!

Laurie was pleased.

The next issue was boxing up all this gear and figuring out how to ship it to Sweden "cheaply", if there is such a thing.

Well, we purchased ten large boxes from a shipping company in Oxnard and a slew of packing tape at Target. It took us a couple of days but we were ready to ship.

Uffe found a company in Stanton, California near Knott's Berry Farm that would ship our cargo as part of a used/new American car shipment to Göteborg, Sweden. The key thing with this company was that they charged by volume not by weight! The total cost of shipping our "CARE Packages" was only $700!!!

The drawback was that it would take between 45 and 60 days for the gear to make the trip half way around the world.

Michael Contreras, Teamster

Back on February 15th, our son Michael helped me load a truck with only five of the ten boxes. That's all I could fit in the bed of Debi Murphy's Ford F-150 truck that she let me borrow for a couple of days. I would have to make a second trip the next day to get the last five boxes on their collective way.

We were informed last Friday that the ten boxes had arrived, cleared customs and could be picked up today. Hence we were off to Göteborg located on the Göta River that empties into the Skagerrak, the north end of the sound between Denmark and Sweden.

It took 56 days but the boxes were here!!!

Weeping Rocks

During the 150 miles that we drove to the northwest, we saw the landscape change dramatically.


What the hell is this all about?

Hey, they have IKEA in Sweden too!

Imagine that!!!

A 1957 Chevy with a vintage
1950's black California license plate

We arrived at the warehouse and when I saw this car, I knew that we were in the right place.

Fontana? Arleta?

The boxes were here!!!

They were in very good shape and all of the gear plus some more of my clothes were in Sweden.

Kenneth, our friendly fork lift operator

It took him three trips but he found the ten boxes quickly and we loaded up the trailer for our triumphant return to Skåne!

I even got to drive JGFG's car, a Volvo of course, for the last 90 minutes of the drive home. It was my first driving experience in Sweden and a good one to boot.

We got more good news at this end of the cargo's journey. The total charge on the Swedish end of things for unloading the ten boxes from the ship, transporting them to the warehouse and clearing customs was only $280! So we were able to get all of this donated gear to Sweden for about $1000, the cost of about two new football helmets in Vikingland!!!

When we finally arrived in Hässleholm and with the help of Lucas Grip, we unloaded the treasure into the 'Canes storage shed at Göingvallen Stadium.

I think I actually saw a silly grin on JGFG's face.

Warning: Deer Crossing

You see warning signs all over the highways for wild boars, moose and deer. Here I nearly collided with a deer crossing my ICA supermarket.

A close call but I survived!

To all of the VCFCA coaches who helped make American football better in Hässleholm, Sweden through their generosity . . .


DPLassen said...

I'd like to see photos of the rainbow of familiar helmet paint jobs you've now got in a very unfamiliar place.

George said...

Actually we were lucky in this regard, all 17 helmets that were donated were already black.

Michael Contreras said...

Is the weather still cold enough to wear your leather hat?

George said...

I doubt it but it is going to have to be.