Before we spoke about his own Presidency and plans for that, Otto-Petteri (or OP as he is affectionally known in Finnish Hockey) wished to pay tribute to Mika “Mika was President of Finnish Hockey for the past 8 years. In that time, he has led a fantastic rejuvenation of hockey in Finland, especially around getting women back involved and retention of junior players. Mika is a hard-working volunteer who gave endless hours of his time to Finnish hockey. In addition to growing our numbers, Mika is leaving with us more structured leagues variety of leagues including different age groups for juniors, women’s league and 1 division and mixed hockey league where women and men can compete at the same pitch, which has led to better competition between the clubs.”
So OP has ‘big boots to fill’ “Yes Mika has accomplished a lot! I have taken on the Presidency for a 2-year term. I’m delighted that we have almost a new Board with 4 women and 4 men, (plus the President) and each will be given an area of responsibility. We have a development strategy from the last board and it will be up to the new team to deliver this. Year 1 is in place and we’re developing a new strategy as a group which will start on our 2nd year on board.”
“The really great thing about this new group is that it really is a mix of people new to hockey (1/2 years) and others have been involved for quite some time. Also, I’m thrilled that the previous board members have all agreed to continue to volunteer their time and support the new Board. This really is a win-win for Finnish Hockey as we now have a bigger group of active volunteers. We don’t intend to just ‘sit’ and talk about hockey but to be out and about in the clubs etc..”
OP is very excited about starting his Presidency and feels he has great support! He is a bit torn about his coaching career as he’s loving coaching his U18 (now U19) group “I really would love to stay coaching my U19 team ahead of the EuroHockey Championships next year, we have a great group. I’ve been on the EHF’s C4E programme which I enjoyed very much and helped my coaching. My challenge will be as to how much of my free time I can devote to the coaching and balance that with being President. I don’t want one ‘job’ to take from the other, so I’ll see over the next few months.”
Speaking in general about the culture of volunteerism in Finland OP said “Volunteerism has always been there, but over the past few years, there has been an over-reliance on ‘professional staff’ in other sports, but we can see now that it’s changing again as Finnish people realise that in face volunteerism is essential for sport.” which has shown as an increased amount of volunteers in different sports, including ours.
In other news: Finnish National Men’s Coach (Colin Clarke) has announced that he is looking at not just his fabulous young players in Finland, but to players that might be eligible to play for Finland outside Finland – Any interested players should contact firstname.lastname@example.org