Olympic Games, World Cups and The Euros. Those are among the most interesting events in recent history that have lacked a considerable amount of Finnish colours, as in Finland has not been represented in a major football (soccer) tournament since the Olympic games in 1980, which were held in the now defunct USSR. The Finnish national team has at times been rather close to making it to the “big games”, however always lacking the “final push” to win important games so as to qualify for the tournaments. Nevertheless, we Finns are not ones to give up easy, nor do we listen to commonsense.
Most cities abroad, when hit by a blizzard, go into “lock-down”; Airports, schools, stores, you name it, close down and people tend to not go outside if it is not mandatory for them to do so. When Helsinki gets a ton of snow (as expected) it’s business as usual, no big deal. Still, even though, I am a full-fledged Finn and do manage well in this climate that has been given to us, even I wouldn’t think of going out to play football in this weather (and this has nothing to do with the fact that I am more of an Ice Hockey fan).
It had not even crossed my mind that when I went outdoors for a walk with my camera that I would run into kids running around the fields, first clearing the pitches of snow and afterwards kicking the ball around. It was as if the players did not notice that Siberia was moving to Helsinki flake by flake, already occupying most of the football pitches with large amounts of snow. I for one enormously enjoy being indoors and staying warm, heck, I even skipped ice hockey practices as a kid, simply because I did not feel like going outside, which is why it is hard to get my head around why these youngsters would go outside, during a blizzard and play football?! In shorts! (They did have long johns underneath, but still!)
To my understanding the main club of Helsinki, HJK, travels abroad, seeking warmth and holding their training camps in more desirable destinations, but I also know that there are a number of indoor training facilities at the disposal of these young Ronaldinhos running around in the snow here. I would have to assume that there are not enough facilities to cater to these seemingly enthusiastic football prodigies, or that these guys really enjoy some fresh air. Be it as it may, I have to say that, even though, I have given football in Finland a hard time, I have to respect these dudes for doing their thing, rain or shine, kinda like the U.S. Postal Service (Ok, for the postal service it’s probably more of a marketing motto).
Regardless of the fact that we have not seen Finland in tournaments in a long time, I have a strong feeling that that is going to change in the future. It has to. It’s a long and rocky road, but we have already seen positive outcomes of the Finnish training system, Teemu Pukki and Joel Pohjanpalo to name a few prospects. With this amount of attitude and perseverance these guys have even in their training, if we manage to add a bit more skill into that, I think we will be seeing Finland in the major tournaments once more in the future.