Little bit unexpected for people and maybe even for himself, Kalle Bindekrans shows the best results in big tournaments among all other Swedes. We tried to understood why Kalle improve his results the same time as most of Swedish players lose the interest to the tablehockey. So today Kalle, being as always cheerful and communicable, answer on our questions about his work, passions and about the place of tablehockey in his life.
-Kalle, I know that you lived in Riga for some months. What was the reason? And how you felt there?
I went there to do an internship with an international translation company that has an office in Riga, to get some good experience for my future career. Knowing that there was a lot of table hockey going on made the choice to go there even easier. I had such a great time in Riga, it is one of the friendliest and most beautiful cities I have lived in so far. Edgars and Atis (and you too, Yanis) took good care of me and helped me get settled and have fun from day one. Also I got to hang out a bit at bar of Karlis Balodis which was awesome.
-Have you had some free time during your stay in Riga for playing tablehockey?
Yeah, I played some but not as much as I thought I would. I and Mikus Saulitis worked in the same building so we played a few games each week, and I joined Edgars at one of his practice sessions with the Laimite kids. It was good fun and good practice. It was nice to see the next generation of Latvian table hockey players and I was impressed by how good everyone is.
-Let us talk about the last Swedish Masters, what is your impressions about this tournament, how you find the new 1-day playing system?
This year the tournament was different. On a personal level I found it quite convenient that the tournament was only 1 day, as I now live abroad and it is a lot easier to get back to work in time from a 1-day tournament. On the other hand, the tournament felt different and I missed the whole 2-day thing. I have played Swedish Masters since 1996 and I guess I had gotten used to a certain concept; the first group stage where you just try to save energy, the second, where some good players usually miss qualification, and the final groups, where you have to fight for your life. But all in all I still thought it was a good tournament.
-And what about your performance, how you find your result? Have you had any chances to beat Edgars Caics in ¼ after tough game and victory against Petr Tmej?
As for my own performance, I was surprised to get to the play-offs. I had only played one tournament since October and had no practice whatsoever, and I felt like I played really bad. Somehow I did manage though, which was surprising but nice. The only time I had played Petr Tmej in a best of seven before was in Moscow a few years ago, and I lost 4-1 while beautiful Dasha was keeping score. That really sucked. (smile) So it was nice to get revenge. The game was very even though, so I guess it could have gone either way. But when he went from 1-3 to 3-3 I went and talked to a wall for a while and tried to focus again and it all worked out pretty well. For the game against Caics I had a strategy that worked well in the first game, and to an extent in the second game, but when Edgars scored two (pretty lucky, no offense) goals in the last minute of the second game and won it I found it really hard to get back. I lacked energy, and when he got the first goal in the following games it was just too hard to fight. I do not mind losing to him though. He is a very good player and a gentleman. All in all I am quite happy with my performance, now I am going to get a table and start practicing for Moscow Cup which I am really looking forward to!
-How you remember the main tournament of previous season – WCh in Turku? On the one side you reached top-8 in open category, but on the other side Sweden was out of medals in teams again…
We missed the medals in the team category. That sucked. I think we did pretty well though, it was closer than people probably would have expected. Even if we are Sweden and used to be great. As for my own performance I was really happy to get to the top 8; it was my goal, and for the first time in years I actually practiced. It is always nice when that pays off. In Budapest I missed play-off on goal difference or something ridiculous like that and I was pissed off and decided that would not happen again, which it did not. I really enjoyed playing Galuzo in the quarter finals, I think most people thought it would be an easy win (not for me, obviously) but I am glad that I could provide some sort of resistance.
-Did you suppose before WCh that you will become the best Swedish player in open category?
Well, no. Hans is normally our best player by far. I knew that I could get pretty far, but I thought he would get further.
I guess you could never hear about it, but here are words of your friend Hans Osterman about you in his interview 1 year before WCh: “Kalle made enormous tactical and mental progress. I think he will be at least top-8 in WCh”. Prophetic words, is not?
Haha, yeah I suppose so. Hans has always had a good eye. I have been pretty close to beating him, taking three play-offs to a deciding game in the past year or so. And I think he has had it quite easy in Sweden before, so it was probably surprising to him.
Do you and your teammate Hans have plans to play in Saint-Petersburg on WCCh in May? Maybe it will be Mollan Rouge or maybe team Sweden?
To be honest, I don not know. Hans does not seem too keen on playing at the moment, says he has quit but I’ve heard that too many times to believe it. Petter says the same thing. On the plus side, Finn Fries seems to have made a comeback, at least in our local leagues so maybe we could get a team. As it stands I really don’t know, though.
-How you find the news that ECh in June moved from Zagreb to well-known for you Riga. Will we meet you there? And what do you think, will we see also the strongest Swedish team in Riga this year? At this moment Sweden are current European champion in teams category…
It was great news for me! If I went to Zagreb in the summer I’d want to be out in the sun and drink beer. And the Latvian federation is so well organized; I think they will do a great job. Concerning my participation, that’s unfortunately a different story. I won’t be able to qualify, as I am moving back to Riga in January for a permanent position and thus will miss the tournaments in Sweden… I’ll definitely be there, but most likely as a spectator. The Swedish team will be missing a lot of old top players, but hopefully they can still fight for the medals.
-Why you missed the previous and home for you ECh in Overum?
It was stupid, really. In Sweden you count your 4 best tournaments and I only had 3. I needed to go to the tournament in Malmö and just lose all games, if I’d done that I would have qualified. But I had a really big gig with my band and could not get there, so I missed the qualification with 1 point. (smile) It sucked, but I had to prioritize.
-So what’s the name of your band and what kind of music do you play?
Hehe, the band is called “Göteborgs Nations Husband” – not very sexy, but it’s hard to change a name after five years. We play all kinds of rock and modern music. Check us out on youtube!
-Maybe you have some more passions in your life which I don’t know, besides tablehockey and music?
Well, my big passions are definitely music and table hockey, in that order. I also really like languages, learning them, learning about them. My goal is to speak Latvian, if not fluently so at least at a decent level, before I move to the next place.
You are welcome to explore Russia! I also know that it was “English period” in your life, just like Atis Silis has now. Tell us something more about England and your life there.
Oh, England is another great country to live in. I moved there when I was 21 and started working in clubs and bars, and ended up with some sort of managerial position at a pretty nice cocktail bar/night club. It was all party and a lot of fun. But at some point I had to pull myself together and do something proper. So I went back to Sweden and to university, one of the best choices I’ve made in my life.
-Why and when did you made the other choice in your life and started to play tablehockey? Was it really popular thing in Sweden in 90-th?
-I wouldn’t say it was popular, but it was more popular than it is today. Everyone in Sweden has played table hockey at some point in their life. I just got hooked and wanted to be the best. Me and my brother met a couple of guys who wanted to start a club, when we were 14 and 12. Then it just went from there, really.
-Have you any idol in tablehockey World when you were a junior and just started to play?
-I hope I don’t offend Hans by saying this, but Jacob has always been my idol. To this day, I still haven’t seen anyone with his touch. It’s is hard to describe what it is that makes his way of playing different, but it is something about the touch. Very soft, almost completely silent when passing and shooting. I just thought he was so, so good. Today he probably wouldn’t beat the Russians, Ahti/Roni, or Atis/Edgars for that matter, but I still rank him as the best player ever.
And I should just agree with you. What tablehockey means for you nowadays? What do you get when you play in tournaments? You said you wanted to be the best, do you still have those ambitions?
Table hockey is a big part of my life. When I was young I practiced crazy much, I divided my time between table hockey, playing the piano and counter-strike. I wanted to be the best, but I never really believed I could be. I guess I have just steadily gotten better, and here I am today not really sure what or when it happened. Today, table hockey is a chance for me to compete – I love to compete and I love winning. But for me it has also been a way of meeting new people from around the world and making friends, which I think is just as important. It is partly thanks to table hockey that my time in Riga was so great, even if I didn’t play that much.
-And the last question. Please, try to describe your life in one slogan
Don’t worry, be happy.
-Thank you, Kalle, for an interesting conversation. You’re welcome to Russia!