TIL-Troms Kraft to ‘power’ up Sámi community


Norwegian club Tromsø IL stadium naming rights Image: Troms Kraft

The Eliteserien team Tromsø IL (Norway) and the power company Troms Kraft have worked in their individual capacities to promote the Sámi language and culture.

‘Troms Kraft’ stated that now the above two entities have come together to further give teeth to the Sámi language and culture through the medium of football and to this end the top-flight and the power company have struck a naming rights deal as part of which the Tromsø IL home ground will be called the Romssa Arena.

The Eliteserien team Tromsø IL (TIL) is a Norwegian professional football club founded in 1920, based in the City of Tromsø, Norway. They play their home games at the Rommsa Arena.

Eliteserien is a Norwegian professional league for association football clubs. At the top of the Norwegian football league system, it is the country’s primary football competition. Contested by 16 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Norwegian First Division.

The Romssa Arena is a football stadium located in Tromsø, Norway. Till not very long back, its name was the Alfheim Stadion. It is the home stadium of Tromsø IL, a Norwegian professional football club that currently competes in the Eliteserien. The stadium has a seating capacity of 6,691 and features an artificial turf ground.

Troms Kraft is a power company that operates 12 hydroelectric power plants and the power grid in 15 municipalities in Troms, Norway. The retail division has 100,000 customers and traded 5 TWh of electricity in 2006, in addition to 40 GWh of district heating.

The Sámi culture is the oldest culture in large areas of Northern Norway and is currently undergoing a strong Renaissance. The Sámi people live in four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The total population in these four countries is estimated at circa 80,000, of whom around half live in Norway.

Echoing similar sentiments, Semming Semmingsen, the head honcho of Troms Kraft and Øyvind Alapnes, General Manager of Tromsø IL, stated, “We want the Romssa Arena to mirror the Sámi language and culture and the same should be experienced by everyone who lives in Northern Norway.”

‘Troms Kraft’ further stated that the above naming rights deal is part of a wider initiative to promote the Sámi language and culture in Troms and Finnmark. The Tromsø Municipality, Troms and Finnmark County Council – Troms, the Sámi Parliament, and the Tromsø IL announced on March 29th a joint initiative to promote the Sámi language and culture.

Troms is a former county in Northern Norway. On January 1st, 2020 it was merged with the neighboring Finnmark County to create the new Troms og Finnmark County. This merger is expected to be reversed by the Government resulting from the 2021 Norwegian Parliamentary election.

Tromsø is Northern Norway’s largest City and the Municipality in Norway with most inhabitants registered in Sámi Parliament’s electoral roll. Together, they work to strengthen the Sámi language and culture, build knowledge about the Sámi society and their indigenous rights as well as strengthen and maintain diversity throughout the region.

Very Sámi

The name Romssa Arena means Tromsø’s arena in Northern Sámi. For Troms Kraft and Tromsø IL, it had become imperative to come up with a Sámi name connected to Tromsø IL and the City of Tromsø. They also wanted a name for the facility that would be easy to pronounce and which everyone understands. But the most pertinent factor was that the Sámi language and culture got more visibility.

Added Semmingsen, “As a publicly-owned power company, we have a social responsibility linked to our operations. We want to do our part in promoting the Sámi language and culture, especially at a time when this culture is at peril from the society at large. This includes our own operation and development of power generation and network infrastructure. We know that the nature of our operations does not exactly work in favor of Mother Nature and the reindeer herding districts are also affected. We, therefore, go to great lengths to adapt and find mitigating measures, and we will also help to support the Sámi language and culture through collaboration with the Tromsø IL.”

Sámi Identity

The Tromsø IL is a football club with great commitment towards the society. In recent years, the Tromsø club has proven that they can play a key role when it comes to uplifting the Sámi community. Now, as the top-of-the-heap club join forces with Troms Kraft and key public players in the North, it will pull out all stops to protect the Sámi identity.

Added Alapnes, “For a long time, we had this desire to promote the Sámi language and culture and work towards the interests of the Sámi community. We are now taking concrete steps towards the same. Along with Troms Kraft, we will give the Romssa Arena a clear Northern Norwegian and Sámi identity.”

Indigenous First

With the Tromsø IL home facility being given the name Romssa Arena, it is the first time a professional sports stadium in Europe is using the language of an indigenous group as its venue name. This is also the first time that a Norwegian sports team is getting a naming rights sponsor who is shining a spotlight on an important social issue, and not just the sponsor’s brand. Such sponsor names are few and far in between, even internationally.
Guests coming to the Romssa Arena will experience the following changes:

  • This season, visitors to the arena will be able to buy Sámi food in the kiosks to be set up at the stadium;
  • Tromsø IL will play with the Sámi captain’s armband; and
  • The Romssa Arena will be a meeting point for the Sámi community.

The Tromsø IL will visit schools where children belonging to the Sámi community study and will ask them to be physically active as well as teach them how they should be proud of their Sámi identity.

Sámi Parliament Support

The name change to the Tromsø IL home venue has been supported by the Sámi Parliament.

Sámi Parliament Councilor Runar Myrnes Balto heaped praises on Tromsø IL and Troms Kraft for naming the arena with the Sámi community in mind and for taking the initiative to make their culture visible.

Reindeer herding is when reindeer are herded by people in a limited area. Currently, reindeer are the only semi-domesticated animal which naturally belongs to the North. Reindeer herding is conducted in nine countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Greenland, Alaska (the United States), Mongolia, China and Canada. A small herd is also maintained in Scotland.

Reindeer herding is conducted by individuals within some kind of cooperation, in forms such as families, districts, Sámi and Yakut villages and sovkhozy (collective farms). A person who conducts reindeer herding is called a reindeer herder and approximately 100,000 people are engaged in reindeer herding today around the circumpolar North.

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