Sauna, Pajulahti and the European Championships

Heikki Juvonen is the head coach of the Finnish women’s goalball team.

"Finnish women’s goalball team is again facing a major event at home soil. Last time we played in the World Championships in Espoo 2014. Those Games was the first big event for me as a head coach. At that time we didn’t succeed as we were eliminated after round robin in a very tough pool. A lot have changed after that, new players have arrived and the game has evolved around us. There are plenty of countries who are making effort and putting resources to reach the top. In many countries national team players can focus on sports and maybe even get some money doing it. 

That’s not the case for our players. Each of our players face weekly challenges trying to combine personal life, work, studies and sport. That being said we are still going to the Euros aiming to compete equally against others and trying to fulfil our dreams. As always, there are two sides in this. On one hand better resources would make it possible to focus on sports and have more quality and volume in training. But on the other hand it would also bring bigger responsibilities, which might erase the feeling of freedom from our players. That freedom is something that gives space to chase our dreams.

Heikki Juvonen

We already know who we are playing against and in which order in round robin. I believe there will be lots of very even matches and although I think that Russia will be the biggest favourite in our pool we have potential to challenge them in a single match. And after round robin there are only “sudden death” matches so there will surely be drama, joy, sorrow and all the other emotions… That’s what sport is about!!!

We have faced many downhills during our journey towards the Euros and I can tell that it hasn’t been all smiles all the time. Luckily things seem to have started go our way as summer arrived and now our players have good drive in their training. Our preparations consist of weekly trainings – both sport and physical exercise – camps, training matches and lots of other stuff. As a coach I have an interesting job to create an atmosphere where players feel they can reach their best and even go higher than that. We truly believe that we have everything it takes to go far in the tournament. Now we are just trying to find the right ways to do that!

I have written this text sitting in the terrace of the Pajulahti lakeside sauna on a sunny summer evening. This day has again been full of training… Watching this lake view makes me forget all unnecessary and many good thoughts about our team and the forthcoming Euros are starting to develop in my head… I recommend this experience for all the athletes, coaches and other team members when you come here in Pajulahti!

I wish all the athletes coming to the Euros great training sessions and hope you stay fit to be able to play a great tournament!"

There will be total of 22 blog texts published in the Pajulahti 2017 blog, one text every week until the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships on 18–22 of September. Each week there will be a different writer. New blog text will be published every Wednesday.