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RSL's Borchers, Russell reflect on tragedy in Norway

RSL's Nat Borchers and Robbie Russell

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

LEHI, Utah — Last week, the world was shocked by news of horrific shooting carried out by a lone terrorist in Norway, who killed 76 people in and outside the capital city of Oslo and left an entire nation emotionally scarred.

The tragic event hit close to home for a couple of Real Salt Lake players: Nat Borchers and Robbie Russell, who both played professionally in the Scandinavian country.

“I think it’s pretty shocking,” said Borchers, who came to RSL from Odd Grenlund, located two hours south of Oslo. “You have a peaceful country like Norway, and for that to happen — it’s just unbelievable. I saw the initial reports and couldn’t really believe it myself. And just to think that one of their own did it is even more tragic. And also with so many young people involved, it’s just unbelievable.”

For Russell, who played for both Sogndal and Rosenborg, the actions just don’t fit with the country that he became familiar with during his four-plus years there.

“[Norwegians are] very socially conscious people,” explained Russell. “Politically, they make an attempt to hear everyone out. I think it’s one of those situations that because they strive so much to listen to the little guy that when someone, however crazy he is, feels like he’s not being represented, it kind of surprises them.

“That was the thing — it was something that the guy was so mentally unstable that it really was against the norm, and anything that extreme comes as a shock to people who are very middle-of-the-road.”

Russell also pointed out that Norway has been ranked as one of the better countries in the world to live, in part due to how peaceful it is. In 2010, Newsweek ranked Norway as the sixth-best nation to live in.

“It’s just against the norm for people to act out like that,” said Borchers. “You don’t find people as frustrated by society in Norway as you do in other parts of the world.”

The center back, who spent two years in Norway, added that he felt extremely safe throughout his stay.

“It’s safer in terms of being able to walk the streets in a big city over there at night vs. over here,” Borchers said. “It would be a better place to raise your kids in terms of how safe some of those towns are, and how close-knit the communities are, and so it’s just a shock to see something like this to happen over there.”