"I know I'm falling apart"

Västerås SK's assistant coach Johan Ganebro about leadership, the tragedy that made him national captain and collapsing after a SC final.

Tell us about your role in VSK bandy!
- I have been a coach in the men's team since the 13/14 season, with one exception in the 14/15 season, when I only coached Sweden's men's national team together with Jonas Claesson and Svenne Olsson. But then I came back the following season. So me and Micke (Carlsson) have been driving together for a few years now. It's the best job in the world. We have grown up together and know each other's strengths and weaknesses, both as people and professionals. We are good at letting each other be good and making each other better, and develop and challenge ourselves all the time.

You are also involved in the Netherlands national team. How is it that?
- Actually, it is very tragic. Thomas "Pinno" Engström was the national team captain for the Netherlands. He passed away in the autumn there... and after that they contacted me and asked if I had the opportunity to be there. I was hesitant, because I felt that it is a very important commitment and that they deserve 100%, so given my other job, there was some thought. At the same time, I know how much "Pinno" burned for the international part of bandy, and above all the work he put in for the Netherlands. So then I felt it became my way of honoring him. He was my goalkeeper coach when I was 15-16 years old, so he has always been part of my bandy world. Although we have never worked together, we have still worked in parallel with each other. But it's nothing I regret, but it has been incredibly cool to be part of that environment. Both to meet the players, but also to be involved at international level with the B nations, how it works and how important it is for the sport.

What is the difference between an A and a B WC?
- The level of education, individual skill and performance is the big difference. But the commitment and the passion, how important it is and the desire to be good and try to do your best... it's the same. The competition is the same. There are differences, but I would argue that there are more similarities. Just as it has been between Sweden and Russia, so it is when there is a match between the Netherlands and Germany. No lighter fluid is needed for it. From a historical perspective and other things, there's a tension there, and you're on roughly the same level game-wise.

You live bandy. What do you get out of all the time you spend?
- Yes, what do I get out... haha! No, but I get my reward and energy when I see others succeed in surpassing themselves, and I may feel that I have contributed to that person's journey. Seeing it is something that drives me every day. Basically, it's really a huge ego trip, because I do it to feel good, and I feel good when I see others succeed. It's probably that simple, my platform for that has become bandy.

What do you feel you contribute most to other people's success?
- I guess I've always tried to see my leadership more like the floor and the walls, but not the ceiling. Or the director of a performance. You are there during the entire rehearsal period, and then you are there for the genre rehearsal... but once the premiere is on, and the ensemble then continues for a number of years, then you move on. Then they are ready. Then you have been involved in training and developing so much that they can stand on their own two feet and discover new things, as well. I think that is my greatest strength, to create and help with that platform so that you can ultimately lead yourself.

On March 18, 2023, VSK's men played the SM final. Tell us about your experience from that day!
- It was a wonderful day! In the morning we got up and had breakfast. We played crowns, it's a tradition we have in VSK bandy, and we had some other pentathlons that we ran when we went there in the semi-rain. We felt quite ready and looked forward to the match in a hell of a lustful way. That's one of the things we're good at, finding that feeling. And then the match itself, it was pretty much what we saw before us. Then the best way to win a final is in sudden death, that's right. It's about daring to be relaxed and offensive in that situation, and we had a good feeling going into it. We felt that now we have the chance, and now we take it.

When Viktor Spångberg then decides, what was the feeling in the body?
- It's full euphoria when you understand what's happening. Then, quite quickly afterwards, everything just falls apart. Then it lets go for me. After all, you have lived under quite a lot of tension for a long time, and then you run out of emotions instead for a little while there. As a coach, you have so much on your mind, so that's what lets go. I know I'm breaking down, in the middle of the whole situation. I remember that Ted Andersson, our sports director, more or less lifted me up and said "but Johan, get up". I'm grateful he did, so I could take it in. Because it's incredibly important to take in the feeling there and then too, that's what gives us energy to try to do it again.

What do you pack with you when you go to bandy?
- I pack the computer with me, of course. And the whiteboard, the iPad, my notebook... and then I have a binder with all the secrets, haha.

Can you tell me something that is in the secret folder?
- No.

You have also followed us at Bury Fen since the start. What are you stuck on?
- I think it's great stuff! But I think that if we have a brand that is for bandy, people want to embrace it. Then it doesn't matter that it's good stuff too. For me it came quite naturally.

What is your favorite product?
- When I'm out walking the dog in the forest on a cold day, it's the Stålvallen gloves . Then they're damn... yes, a favorite product. But since I don't leave the house without my backpack, it's probably my product, really. But the favorite product is probably the gloves .

Johan Ganebro does not leave home without his Modell 2 from Bury Fen . Photo: Dan "Kiwii" Persson

Finally, what's your best tip for someone who doesn't usually go to bandy?
- Go to bandy! It doesn't have to be more difficult than that. Don't think too much, but go to bandy. That way you get to experience what is and then you'll want to go to bandy again later.