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All the talk about his playing-in-Europe seminar for the column on George Contreras in Tuesday's paper didn't really leave space to discuss his new coaching job in Sweden after two years in Italy, but we did talk about it, starting with the obvious question: Why Sweden?
"I wasn't really looking to go back this year," said Contreras. "I thought I'd take a year off. ... Basically this coach from Sweden contacted me, and it just kind of appealed to me from the standpoint of not having imports, and really being grass-roots kind of stuff. I thought I could put my last two years of coaching freshman football to really good use.
"And the other thing, a little bit selfishly, is being down in Sicily, we are so far, basically, from mainland Europe. ... We'd seen Southern Europe, so this gives me a chance to be in the Northern part. Certainly a different culture, a different climate ... and from the travel-experience standpoint, I'll be able to easily hit a lot of Northern Europe.
And when I connected with Uffe Palmbrink" -- the owner of the Hasselholm Hurricanes, based in a city of 18,000 (including the surrounding district, the population is about 50,000) in southern Sweden -- " he's just a good guy. He appealed to me the way he's approaching thing.
"But it's definitely a different deal because of skill levels."
That desire to travel while in Europe is enhanced by a scheduling quirk Contreras calls "probably the only goofiness in Sweden" -- the Swedish American Football Federation shuts down for seven weeks in midseason so people can enjoy the relatively brief Swedish summer, and for the first six of those weeks, the team won't even practice.
"Then we come back for three weeks and it's the playoffs. ...
And from what I've heard from guys who have coached in Sweden, a couple of Americans I've met, it's not unusual that a lot of your guys don't come back. We come back in August, and August is Europe's summer vacation. So even though we're taking this time off so you can enjoy the outdoors, there's a good chance guys are still working, so when it comes to vacation shut-down time, then they're going to really take off."
Still, while he considers the chance to coach at more basic level "a good change of pace," coaching in Sweden does have one notable side effect when it comes to Contreras' coaching work in Ventura County: Because the Swedish playoffs run into October, he won't be coaching locally this year, ending 40 consecutive years of coaching high school football at some level.
There's one other reason Contreras is moving from Italy to Sweden, and it's simply to expand the whole experience of coaching in Europe.
"I had an enjoyable two years in Catania" -- the city in Sicily where he coached the last two years -- "but ... the second year became, 'This is where I work. Let's go to the same restaurant.' Not that it was bad; it just wasn't that adventure the first year was.
"And all the guys I've talked to who've coached over there, none of them have ever coached in the same town twice. They've always moved to a new experience, because it is a big experience. And the same thing with players."
So if it's 2010, this must be Sweden. In 2011, who knows?