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From Sweden to St. Paul? Local group plans puckelball field

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It's sort of like soccer, but it's played on a hilly field. It's more about play and less about competition. It's the game of puckelball, which is popular in Sweden and may be coming to St. Paul next year.

A local nonprofit group called Joy of the People, which provides free play and training for youth soccer players, is making plans to build a puckelball field at the South St. Anthony Recreation Center, KSTP reports.

(Photo by Glósóli Ateljé/ David Puig Serinyà)

Joy of the People is teaming up on the project with the Swedish artist who invented Puckelball, Johan Ström. He was in town last week to present plans for the new field to interested St. Paul residents.

KSTP describes the puckelball field as "something out of a Dr. Seuss book," with a hilly playing surface and fanciful, sculpture-like goals on either end. There are only two fields in existence so far – both of them in Sweden.

This video gives you an idea of how puckelball is played.

Puckel means “bump” in Swedish, and Ström said the field is meant to be a reflection of real life.

“We like to relate sports to life, but a normal soccer field does not represent life properly,” Ström said, according to Twin Cities Daily Planet. “Life is not smooth and even, you never know where the ball will bounce. Sometimes it is just not fair.”

Ted Kroeten, artistic director for Joy of the People (JOTP), said his organization wanted to work with Ström after realizing that puckelball aligned with the group's approach.

JOTP promotes free play instead of intensive coaching and competition as the best path to develop youth soccer players, Kroeten said.

“To turn into great players, children have to play the game without being told what to do,” he said, according to the Daily Planet.

This rendering (courtesy of Johan Ström) shows where the field might be located at the South St. Anthony Rec Center.

The puckelball field will cost about $500,000 to build, according to the Daily Planet.

There's more about puckelball on this Facebook page, but be aware that some of it is written in Swedish.

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