Breaking: Kurdish delight as Dalkurd promoted to Swedish top flight

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A goal by Rawez Lawan for Dalkurd in the penultimate game of the season against GAIS sent Kurds around the world into ecstasy as the Swedish side won promotion to the country’s top flight only 13 years after the club was founded.

Set up by Kurdish immigrants in the town of Borlaenge in Dalarna county, the club has 1.5 million followers on Facebook and its rapid rise through the Swedish divisions has made it the de facto national team for Kurds around the globe.

“It’s unbelievable, completely unbelievable. I wish every single person could feel the way I do right now,” an elated Lawan told Reuters shortly after promotion was secured.

Dalkurd have been involved in a tight, tense battle against Brommapojkarna, who beat them 1-0 in Stockholm on Tuesday to secure their own berth in next season’s Allsvenskan.

That left Dalkurd needing a point against GAIS on Saturday, and Lawan rifled home the game’s only goal in the 59th minute to the delight of the 2,740 fans at the Domnarvsvallen stadium, as well as Kurds around the world.

“They are very happy. I had an aunt who called me, we talk every week, but never about football,” the 30-year-old midfielder said.

“She said, ‘I saw your goal. We are so happy here.’ They had a big dinner to celebrate, and these are people who normally don’t care about football.”

Lawan’s parents fled from Slemani, a town close to the Iranian border in northern Iraq, in 1981 because of the Iran-Iraq war, eventually moving to the southern Swedish city of Malmo, where he was born six years later.

“At the moment we are going through a tough time in Kurdistan, and today there are many with a smile on their faces,” Lawan said.

“They can forget everyday life and convince themselves they are in paradise because of what we have done.”

Currently in second place on 57 points after 29 games, Dalkurd can still win the Superettan if they beat Trelleborg in their final game, but leaders Brommapojkarna have a one-point lead and a game in hand.

The Allsvenskan will be a major step up for such a small club, but the acquisition of former Celtic striker Mohamed Bangura at the beginning of last season shows that the club has both the resources and the desire to succeed.

“It’s something we Kurds are used to,” Lawan said.

“We are always the underdogs, but we always come out as the winners all the same.”