Hunger grows as home games getting closer

Miika Honkanen is a Finnish men’s national team player who made his international debut two years ago in the latest European Championships.

"The 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships in Pajulahti will be the third major championships in my career and also the first home games for me which makes it even more interesting. In the Rio Paralympics our team had to settle for the 9th place but for me personally it was an unforgettable experience which made me want to reach the top even more than before. After Rio I have spent my time effectively trying to develop my weaknesses. By getting better I’m of course also trying to help my team to reach success.

My main focus during this eventful year has been in improving the quality of my everyday training and recovering more effectively after training sessions. This is already starting to show positively in my playing. One of the major things I really needed to improve is my throwing. By improving it I have taken a big step towards being a more overall world class center player. I’m really eager to get to prove myself in a high level matches so I can’t wait to get on the court in the Euros.

Besides getting better myself I have also noticed that our whole national team has developed as well. Our team has concentrated in putting more quality to our everyday work which have also helped me getting better personally. Our national team staff have gone through big changes this year as almost all members of it have changed since Rio so this year has also been time of re-organizing. I’m really looking forward to the Euros as we get to show the new tricks we have learned.

Miika Honkanen

I built this text in my head as we were travelling to Kaunas, Lithuania where we took part in the annual Lions Cup tournament in July. As I sat there with a cup of coffee in my hands listening to my team members talking and having a laugh I couldn’t resist smiling. These are the key moments for me, the reasons why I’m playing this sport. The greatness of team sport is that it has it all. The team spirit is built from these small moments of being together and having fun. The tournament in Kaunas was actually an excellent moment for our team to build team spirit as we were there with two teams and complete staff. The other team played eight and the other seven matches so our staff had to do 15 matches in 49 hours. After this we really know how to work as a team. The tournament was also good practice for us ahead of the Euros as we finished second.

My first home games will be an important test for me. I believe that playing in front of home crowd will be both a threat and a possibility – you know, more cheering but also more pressure. I’m not worried though, just looking forward to the atmosphere. If something would worry me – which isn’t the case – it would be the time we have before our matches start. Normally, playing abroad, we would use the spare time training and getting to know the venue and environment. This time we will spend those days in Pajulahti which is one of the most familiar place for us in the world… Of course this will make our preparations much easier and makes it possible for us to figure out some creative ways to spend our time as everything will be easy and familiar to us.

I would like to welcome all the players and staff to beautiful Pajulahti to enjoy this great event. I also heartily recommend everyone interested in the sport of goalball to come on-site to follow matches and enjoy the side activities of the games such as Pimé Café – a coffee break in the dark! I hope to meet you in Pajulahti and catch up in social media!"

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.