Australian rules football began in Sweden in late 1993 with the creation of the Helsingborg Saints for play in the Danish Australian Football League. They continued as the only Australian rules club in Sweden (excepting the short-lived Lund Bulldogs in 1995) until 2002, when the DAFL was restructured and the Saints were divided into three new clubs, the Port Malmö Maulers, Helsingborg West Raptors and Lund Magpies. After 2005, the three Scania teams became feeders for the South Sweden Saints (changed name back to Helsingborg Saints in 2008), who competed in the DAFL Premier League and reached the 2005 Grand Final.
In 2003 a new club was formed, the Göteborg Berserkers, followed by the Stockholm Dynamite in 2004. The three centres for footy in Sweden continued to operate largely independently of each other, with the Dynamite creating its own five team local league, the Stockholm region Australian Football Federation.
A loose federation calling itself the Swedish Australian Football Association was created, but no real governing body was created until late 2007 under the name Svenska Australiensiska Fotbollsförbundet or AFL Sweden. The announcement of the creation of the Swedish Australian Football League in 2006 which comprises representative teams from the three large regions of Australian Football in Sweden; Scania, Gothenburg and Stockholm.
Australian Football is currently played in Helsingborg, Malmö, Karlskrona, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Karlstad and Norrtälje.
The Swedish National team is nicknamed the Elks, drawn from all teams across Sweden. The first appearance of a Swedish national team was in 1997, when the Elks were defeated by Denmark’s Vikings in Helsingborg. The next Elks match was in 2004, when the Elks defeated the touring North London Lions by 11 points at Malmö. In 2005, the first test match between Sweden and Denmark is some time was held at Farum, Denmark, with the game played out as a draw. This match consisted of an all-Danish Vikings side, although the Sweden side contained a number of Australians.
At the 2007 EU Cup in Hamburg, Sweden performed very well, eventually winning the tournament. The Elks thrashed Austria by over 100 points in their first group match, then beat France by 41 points to top Pool C. In the Quarter-Finals, Sweden defeated Pool B runners up the Czech Republic by 31 points. In the Semi Finals, they met Pool B champions England. The Swedes ran out 26 point winners, moving onto the final where they would play hosts Germany. In the Final, Sweden won 14.9(93) to Germany 8.5(53).
Strong growth in the Swedish leagues has enabled the Elks to sent a squad to both the 2008 and 2011 Australian Football International Cup in Melbourne. In 2010 Sweden co-hosted the inaugural European Championship, finishing third.
E4 Cup/SAFL Regional League
The Stockholm Dynamite has competed against the Scania Griffins at least once a year to date since 2004. The Southerners won the first cup in 2004 and defended it successfully in 2005. The E4 Cup is named for the E4 motorway connecting the capital with the country’s south. This cup has now been replaced by the SAFL Regional League.
The SAFL Regional League began in 2007, featuring three sides representing the most established regions for Australian rules in Sweden, the Gothenburg Berserkers, Scania Griffins and Stockholm Dynamite.
Australian rules football in the Stockholm region is governed by the Stockholm region Australian Football Federation (SAFF). The SAFF runs a suburban competition as well as the representative team known as the Stockholm Dynamite competing in the SAFL Regional League. Players from any of the SAFF clubs are also eligible for selection to the Swedish national team.
After earlier attempts to start the game of Australian Rules in Stockholm, the first meeting of what was to become the SAFF was held on the December 19, 2003.
Early in April 2004 the Stockholm Dynamite traveled to Malmö and won a resounding victory in their premier game against a rather depleted South Sweden Saints side. Six weeks later the Dynamite accepted an invitation to play a full-strength team in Helsingborg for the inaugural E4 Cup. The match resulted in a four-point win to the South Sweden.
In Stockholm a 3-team league was established, teams being North, South and Central. After each team completed 9 home-and-away games, North defeated Central in the 2004 Grand Final. The Dynamite also travelled to Denmark for the Sheep Station Cup and played an International Rules game against a local Gaelic football club.
In 2005, the Stockholm Australian Football Federation completed its second year. The senior competition again maintained the same three team 9-a-side competition, the sides now named the Northern Axemen, Central Royals, and Southern Sharks. The Sharks defeated the Axemen for the premiership.
In the 18-a-side version of the game, 2005 was a learning curve for the Stockholm Dynamite. The West London Wildcats toured Stockholm in early April, defeating the locals by a good margin. In the E4 Cup, the South Sweden Saints made the long trek to Stockholm. The Saints proved too strong and controlled the game from the outset. Again there were many encouraging signs with the local players making up 40% of the Stockholm Team. The Dynamite again ventured to Denmark for the Sheep Station Cup, finishing fourth.
With the completion of the 2005 senior competition in September, the SAFF turned its focus to junior development. The SAFF hired a professionally accredited physical education teacher and primary school teacher to co-ordinate Australian Rules Clinics at a number of Swedish schools. The sessions were aimed at children aged 10–16 and were based primarily upon the Auskick program. In all, four schools were involved over 38 hours of clinics and 350 children got the opportunity to kick the Sherrin.
The game of Australian rules football has grown steadily in Stockholm over the past few years with a marked increase in local swedish players. As of 2012 there are 5 established clubs in the Stockholm Region with over 20 players registered at each club. Södermalm Blues, Årsta Swans, Bromma Vikings, Solna Axemen and the newly formed Norrtälje Dockers. The Falun Diggers participated in the 2011 competition but did not compete in the 2012 season.