SOLESQUAD - MATILDA EKH
One of my first memories about Solestory back when I was just a regular customer at their store in Stockholm, is that they worked and promoted both the men's and women's national teams. And since I started to work with Solestory, that's one of the things I'm most proud of, how we always try to talk about our female ballers and coaches as much as the men.
As today is International Womens Day, I sat back and thought about some of the amazing women I get to work with. And I'm gonna try to tell you a story.
What if I was to tell you about a young girl from Västerås, who would go on and represent our Senior National Team as a teenager and later on become a key player on one of the bigger Div 1 schools in the US. This is the story about Matilda Ekh.
Matilda grew up in a smaller city in Sweden, called Västerås. They're known for two things. Looptroop Rockers, and some battle against Denmark when Gustav Wasa was running things. And basketball is certainly not one of those things. It might even be the 15th most popular sport. Matilda played most sports as a kid, but since her family were all playing basketball, so did she. And she played on more or less all teams on the club, older kids and also her brothers team. Because there weren't too many players available. Or that's the reason Matilda will give you, but I know it's not 100% true. She was a phenom and as a 13 year old girl, she debuted on their Senior team in the 2nd Division, Basketettan Dam. And during her second season, still only 14 years "old" she held her own, averaging more than 10 points. When I asked her about this, she's way too humble and claims she don't remember it that way, but I know because my local team played them that season.
And just like Looptroop, she made noise and took her talents beyond Västerås, as she got accepted to RIG Luleå where she would transform into one of the best guards in the nation. During the summers she was busy representing Sweden on every level from U15 to U20, winning Gold in the Euro Basket for U16 and named to the All-Star team the following year for U18. During her third year in highschool, she committed to play professionally for Luleå Basket, being named "Årets Stjärnskott" (Rookie Of the Year) and winning a national title, and getting recruited by tens of D1 schools in the States. As Covid shut basketball down in 2020, she decided to stay in Sweden one more year.
During the Finals of SBL Dam for the 2020-21 season, I was working close to the team to document her teammate Chioma Nnamaka's last run and I got to know Matilda personally. As I sat and watched some practices I noticed how smart she is. As a bigger guard, I thought she would just out muscle opponents, but seeing her break down defenders to either score at will or create for others, but mostly doing the right play was what stood out.
"Matilda is a fearless and humble player. From being a go-to player with Luleå Basket to having a significant role with the women’s national team at such young age, it’s no doubt in my mind why she is a big part of the future of Swedish basketball." - Chioma Nnamaka, 2023
Luleå fell down 0-2 and everyone counted them out. As team captain Chioma knew this was her last run, she took over for Game 3 and the rest is history. Luleå stormed back to clinch the gold 3-2 and I remember Matilda was a big piece in the deciding game. Before we said bye on the team bus, she told me she was going to play at Michigan State University the following year, and I thought this was the last time I'd see her, so we hugged good bye and I told her she's an amazing young woman to watch dominate.
Fast forward to this season, when I got to work with her again, cause we got the honor to have her as a member on the Solesquad. We met one morning in Uppsala to do some Soletestings and short promos. We spent a couple of hours in the gym, and I can tell y'all one thing. This woman don't miss. As I asked her to do a move and pull up for a shot, I told her it doesn't matter if she make it or not, since I could edit it out. But from all those shots, only two were misses. I got a text from Pontus asking how it went, and I just texted him back "She hasn't missed since lunch." It was 4 pm and we wrapped up so she could drive back to Västerås to vote before leaving for Lancing, Michigan.
Now tell me Matilda isn's the greatest thing to happen to Västerås.