Statoils talentpris honors young athletes

Martin Ødegaard selected as the talent of the year out of eight exceptional candidates

Photo: Vegard Grøtt / NTB Scanpix / NRK Martin Ødegaard, making history by playing in a European Championship qualifier earlier this year. At 15, he was the youngest player ever to do so.

Photo: Vegard Grøtt / NTB Scanpix / NRK
Martin Ødegaard, making history by playing in a European Championship qualifier earlier this year. At 15, he was the youngest player ever to do so.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

For their outstanding performance and dedication to the sport of soccer, eight of Norway’s most promising young soccer talents receive Statoils talentpris each year. This talent prize is a collaboration between Statoil, Norges Fotballforbund (NFF), and TV 2, and is awarded as a part of Morgendagens helter, the Statoil talent program that supports youth with big dreams in education, culture, and sports.

From March through October, a young athlete is chosen each month by a jury of three soccer experts: NFF manager Nils Johan Semb, NFF head of women’s soccer Gøril Kringen, and experienced athlete and coach Leif Gunnar Smerud. Statoil then awards each athlete of the month with 50,000 kroner to donate to one of more of the soccer clubs that have contributed to their development.

Once all eight victors have been selected, everyone is invited to vote for one of these eight candidates to be chosen as the soccer talent of the year.

Although all eight athletes are incredible soccer players with promising futures, it is no surprise that the people chose the 15-year-old record-setting midfielder Martin Ødegaard as the winner of the 2014 talent prize.

“Statoil’s talent prize is about highlighting the heroes of tomorrow and giving them extra motivation to continue the positive development. Martin Ødegaard has had a fantastic season and we are proud to give the prize to him,” comments Marius Rosenberg Amundsen, Statoil’s sponsorship manager.

“It’s great to get this award. I am very grateful,” says Ødegaard, who was first selected as the talent of the month in April.

When Ødegaard was awarded the talent prize in the spring, the jury released a statement explaining their selection: “With his touch and youthful audacity, Martin Ødegaard debuted in Tippeligaen in 2014. The youngest ever Tippeligaen debutant not only uses the ball as a natural extension of his own body, but he also chooses his actions in an impressive way, taking his age and experience into account. Together ball handling and strategy make skill, and Martin Ødegaard exudes that. That he additionally has an attitude and a mentality that makes him a team player and that we are confident he will endure the trials that come with making it to the highest level, we certainly look forward to his future.”

Ødegaard continued to impress when he became the youngest athlete to participate in a European Championship qualifier on October 13, making international news.

He has chosen to give the entire 50,000 kroner to his childhood club of Drammen Strong, just as he did with the first award in April. “They need money and I know it will come in handy there. It is a great club with many good, young players,” explains Ødegaard.

Statoil, Norges Fotballforbund, and TV 2 hope that this program will promote the development of the sport by encouraging these young athletes to strive for excellence and providing support for the country’s most influential soccer clubs.

2014 recipients of Statoils talentpris
March: Andrine Tomter, 19-year-old left back for Kolbotn.

April: Martin Ødegaard, 15-year-old midfielder for Stømsgodset and the national team.

May: Synne Skinnes Hansen, 19-year-old forward for Røa.

June: Thomas Grøgaard, 20-year-old left back for Odd.

July: Sigrid Heien Hansen, 19-year-old midfielder for Arna-Bjørnar.

August: Iver Fossum, 18-year-old midfielder for Strømsgodet.

September: Karina Sævik, 18-year-old midfielder for Avaldsnes.

October: Morten Thorsby, 18-year-old midfielder for Dutch team Heerenveen.

To learn more about these athletes and Statoils talentpris, visit www.morgendagenshelter.no/Sport/Norges-Fotballforbund/.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 5, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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