Ann Elefalk was a pioneer and a driving force of Swedish women’s bandy and eventually became a national spokesperson for the sport. She was the first manager of the national women’s bandy team and the first woman to be elected into the Swedish Bandy Hall of Fame.
Ann Elefalk was born in Stockholm in 1927. She began to play bandy during the 1940s. In 1943 she was persuaded by Ella Sundberg to begin playing for IK Göta women’s team, the club that Sundberg had founded in 1929. Ann Elefalk remained loyal to the club throughout her active career. She quickly gained attention for her skills and was chosen to represent Sweden at the initial unofficial women’s international championships against Finland in 1946 and 1948. Her teammates included her daughter Siw Elefalk whilst her husband, Arne Elefalk, served as the team coach at both winning games.
Throughout Ann Elefalk’s active career, which can fairly be described as long and variable, she served – as she put it – as a “supporter, kit person, trainer, teammate, coach”. She played her last game in 1993, then aged 66, against Göta Old Girls’-team. In 1969 she was appointed as a so-called women’s spokesperson by the Svenska Bandyförbund (Swedish Bandy association) and tasked with increasing bandy’s popularity amongst young girls. This entailed many school visits throughout Sweden. She very successfully carried out this role for 22 years, and by all accounts was viewed as a driving force and a ‘doer’. She fearlessly criticised the reigning male gerontocracy in the sport when she thought something was not quite right or proper.
In addition to this Ann Elefalk also served as the manager of the national women’s bandy team, and was the first to hold this post. She helped to set up an official international tournament with Finland, Norway, and the Soviet Union amongst others.
Stockholm city awarded Ann Elefalk the St Erik medal in 1979. She received this medal in recognition of her role as the leading sports coach and her enthusiastic efforts within the sport, mainly for her efforts on behalf of promoting women’s bandy. The following year the Expressen newspaper and the Riksidrottsförbund (the national sports association) awarded her a prize for sports coach of the year. Following her death in 1994 she became the first woman to be elected into the Swedish Bandy Hall of Fame, in 2014.
Ann Elefalk died in 1994 and is buried at Brännkyrka cemetery.