For those of you who have been following ETS over the winter months, you'll have read about our partnership with Helsinki-based club Atletico Malmi. Atletico begin their league season this weekend in the Kolmonen/2 division, the fourth tier of football in Finland (the league structure becomes area and region-based underneath the top two leagues). Their first match is on Saturday April 25th against HIFK/2, the second team of the capital's new club in Veikkausliiga.
It's been a momentous pre-season for my new friends, reaching the fifth round of the Suomen Cup for the first time ever, while preparing for another season in a new division, hosting and winning a friendly tournament in the Mosa Cup and competing in the Regions Cup, a cup competition for lower division clubs (a sort of FA Vase).
The 2015 Mosa Cup champions!
The Ketonen brothers Jesse and Jonne have been the big scorers up front, with nine and eight goals respectively, but there's a big squad of players who have all been contributing goals and assists. It's the teamwork that led the side to the last 32 of the Finnish Cup, where they met Veikkausliiga club FC Lahti, who came third in the top division last season and will compete in this year's Europa League. Unfortunately the match ended 2-0 to Lahti, but Malmi made a big impact on a national level, including someone landing on this site searching "Who are Atletico Malmi?" - hope it helped!
The boys training hard - a Finnish 'rondo' - rondi?
Malmi general manager Janne Vottonen told me how vital it is that the club rely on sponsorships and working with local organisations - 100 Euros pays for three training sessions on artificial pitches, while website and jersey sponsorships are also available if you're that way inclined. Any interest is greatly appreciated, feel free to contact me if you want me to get that ball rolling. It's a lot more rewarding to help a team improve and grow, rather than being just another customer at some clubs.
Janne said this week that while there are no official targets for the club this season, but conceded that "the top three would be realistic for this team". With the ground covered already this year, the trajectory will surely continue upwards. ETS will be bringing regular updates on the season, but you can follow Atletico Malmi on Facebook and Twitter.