The sun is shining despite that it is 8 o’clock in the evening. It’s incredible green everywhere I look. A part of the hockey guys are still battling about Stanley cup while other teams in other leagues and countries also in USA and Canada have some vacation or begun their pre-season a bit.
Some of the soccer people are waiting for the confederation cup in Brazil, other people are planning to make a trip to Seinäjoki for the tango market, where they decide who is the king of queen of tango this year.
Perhaps a great part of you North American (dear) readers might not understand that part, that tango is a national folkdance in Finland since 100 years back, like or perhaps even bigger than it is in Argentina, the origin tango country.
This year it is 100-year anniversary of tango in Finland: 1913 the tango was introduced the first time at the Apollo theater in Helsinki and spread like a fire through the country. Nowadays the tango has their own big festival in Seinäjoki that is followed by several hundred thousands of visitors every year and broadcasting TV of course.
Me? Well, I do actually appreciate tango music. Somehow I always bounce back to my heritage from time to time when I am on that mood and feel sort of warmth inside me that I can’t explain. Let us say that I value the tango very high, much because it is a part of me.
Anyway that is what is going this summer in Finland as the big thing. If you’re visiting Europe, make a stop by Finland and Seinäjoki for a day or two when the tango festival is going on. Who knows: You might after all become “a Finn”.
Read more here about the tango in Finland if you’d like to know more: Tangofestival in Seinäjoki and the history of the festival also the history of Finnish tango.
Even if the sun rise high above us late at the evening here in Northern Europe, things are changing. The national team, the big lions, are standing by the cross road and waiting for new directions where to go. Jukka Jalonen has resigned as head coach. Erkka Westerlund together with Lauri Marjamäki and Hannu Virta are taking the position to lead the team through the coming season 2013-14. That means Sochi Olympics and the World championship tournament.
Well, the hockey association of Finland announced about a week ago that Kari Jalonen is taking the charge of the lions after Westerlund. I don’t know if some of you recall that Jalonen was a former player in NHL that he played in both Alberta teams: Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. But so he did. He has also several SM-liiga gold as head coach for Oulun Kärpät and Helsinki IFK and as assistant coach for TPS Turku. Last he was in Russia and the KHL-team Torpedo Nizhniy Novgorod.
No doubt that he is experienced, as hockey player and coach.
Somehow I feel that it is not only the Finnish national team that is standing on a cross road waiting where to go. The hockey family, the number of top teams are expanding, The Swiss team from this year 2013 is a good example.
It is not certain to achieve a medal these days the same “easy way” like it was for 10-15 years ago. Which I think it is good. It shall and shouldn’t be easy during any circumstance. Much because it wouldn’t be good at all for the hockey as sport and people in general want exciting games and tournaments. But on what ground will Finland stand in this?
Ideas and values are the fundaments that form a team and organization.
Finland has always played a game with a lot of heart from coast to coast, reminding a bit of transatlantic hockey but no that really well organized as Canada (that’s where the brain comes in). But when they have attached the heart and mind together, they have also won, like 1995 and 2011 or ended the tournament as top 4 at least.
However, I like the Finnish way to play hockey. It is entertaining. Run’n'gun. Woohoo! Here we go again! (I see a picture in my head of a crazy Tuomo Ruutu)
But you can’t play always that kind of game every time. It has to be modified from one moment to another. Not because of the opponents really but because of the own players who joined in at the moment depending on the NHL-teams, if they are still in bat or out of the game.
So, it will be very interesting to follow where and to what level Kari Jalonen will lead the lions. How will he modified the values that held up the shield on the jerseys and make it to become a successful squad? Note that I am not saying “winning”. Much because that it will not be easy at all to achieve the gold medal or any medal at all.
You might ask what and where the heck is the success in this?
In this particular case success for Finland would be, if start from the bottom and upwards: to be and remain as top 5-time in World championship tournaments, the Olympics and world cup. That’s realistic. I am not sure if anyone would or could ask for more, at least I wouldn’t or can’t. Hope for a medal is something else, that’s a dream and I allow myself to dream and hope for the highest position of course.
The following questions for the hockey association of Finland will be:
Where to bring Finnish ice hockey in the future, let us say the next coming 10 years? How to educate competitive youth players that grows to stars in the SM-liiga and elsewhere like NHL, KHL or other leagues, who will also fill up the national team squads and carry the Finnish way to play the game?
You see, there is a red thread through that has to become clear so that everyone who is involved in this mission can see what and how to do: all the way from small clubs over the whole country up to the national squad.
While we are enjoying the summer with all kind of activities like the tango festival, these questions are still hiding in the mist.
/Arto Palovaara, at Arena Kalevala and Betsafe.
Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams.