My name is Johnni Nielsen, I am from Denmark. I played high-level football back in Denmark and am also a European Football Federation (UEFA) licensed football coach.
When I was a kid, "Made in Taiwan" meant high quality. As I grew older, Taiwan became an important topic concerning democracy.
In 2000, my connection with Taiwan went from only books and media to reality.
In 2006, my daughter came into the world with Down syndrome. In 2009, in order to give her a healthier environment, we decided to move to Taiwan.
My impression of Taiwan before 2009 was more from the perspective of tourism.
When I was looking for a football club for my son, I noticed that I could do more for Taiwan, in return for the country's care of my daughter and for giving me a new home.
Sports are not popular in Taiwan. But, as Taiwanese athlete Chi Cheng said: "Sports makes people healthy, happy, and smart."
That's really true. And most importantly, sports can change social classes, change Taiwan, and change the world.
Based on the spirit of Vikings, I founded the Vikings football club in 2010 to let Taiwan know more about European football. Through football, Taiwan can be connected with the world.
When we return to Denmark, I always take my son to a football club for training.
Eventually, I started to think about bringing along more people, not just my son, so I started to connect Vikings with the world. The Vikings have made many achievements and been part of a number of international exchanges:
2013 Brondby, Denmark (House of Sport/Olympic Village)
2014 Brondby, Denmark (House of Sport/Olympic Village)
2016 Tokyo, Japan; Fuji City, Japan.
2017 Cambodia National Training Center; Brondby, Denmark (House of Sport/Olympic Village); Fuji, Japan
2018 Cambodia National Training Center; Brondby, Denmark (House of Sport/Olympic Village); Fuji, Japan
2019 Brondby, Denmark (House of Sport/Olympic Village)
2020 J-Village (Japan National Training Center), Fukushima, Japan
From 2014 to 2019, the Taiwanese national flag was raised at the Brondby football stadium in Denmark. That's a very special moment every time we go there.
In the past 10 years, I have not charged any coaching fees, and I hope that this good will return. The team has established a complete youth training system with the warmth of a family.
Adult male teams in Taiwan have been upgraded significantly over the past 60 years. We are now a professional football team recognized by FIFA's Asian Football Confederation.
We hope for a chance to be runner-up in the Asian Cup.
Change Taiwan and the world — through football. If we can get more resources, our football team will not only be strong in Asia but also worldwide.
Johnni Nielsen and his players. (Tsai Hsin-ying photo)
(Tsai Hsin-ying photo)