Bengt Johansson, the coach who built Sweden’s most successful handball team, passed away on Sunday after a period of illness.
As a player, Johansson won four Swedish league titles and represented Sweden in international competition between 1964 and 1972.
However, his greatest success came as a coach.
Johansson coached Sweden’s national men’s team from 1988 to 2004, creating his nation’s most decorated handball generation, known as The Bengan Boys.
Yesterday, the International Handball Federation paid tribute to Johansson’s enduring success: ‘With all-time greats in the squad like Magnus Andersson, Martin Frändesjö, Ola Lindgren, Stefan Lövgren, Staffan Olsson and Magnus Wislander, Johansson led Sweden to the gold medal at the 1990 IHF Men’s World Championship and the 1999 IHF Men’s World Championship, to two silver medals in 1997 and 2001 and to two bronze medals, in 1993 and 1995.’
Johansson also won the European Championship four times (1994, 1998, 2000 and 2002), and three consecutive Olympic silver medals at Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
Handball Australia mourns
Bengt Johansson’s inspiring legacy is felt by the Australian handball family too.
Between 1998 and 2000, Johansson volunteered his time to support Australia’s Olympic generation. He traveled to Australia on several occasions to work with the national men’s team, and provide coaching education to coaches in Australia and the Oceania region.
In 2000, Johnasson hosted the Australian men’s team in Sweden, even arranging for joint sessions and training matches with the Swedish national team.
Former national team captain, Lee Schofield remembers Johansson with great fondness.
‘He has left an enormous legacy in the handball world and that extends all the way to Australia. I have very fond memories of Bengt’s involvement in our pre-2000 Olympic preparations,’ said Schofield.
‘Aside from leading his own team, he was assigned by the IHF to assist Australia in getting ready for the Olympic Games.
‘Through some of the combined sessions that we had with Bengt and members of the Swedish team, we gained valuable insights into how the game should be played and how we could best use our resources.
‘It was also immediately clear that Bengt was a handball genius. By that I mean he had that all-too-rare ability to take something complex and explain it in simple terms and then get a group to go out and execute it perfectly.
‘We were very fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to learn from the great man directly.’
Following the Olympic Games, Schofield signed with a Swedish club and spent several years competing in Sweden’s Division 1.
‘During the period I lived in Sweden, I got to understand what a true legend Bengt was in his home Nation, and how ingrained he and The Bengan Boys were in the Swedish handball culture. It made me even more appreciative of what I had experienced,’ concluded Schofield.