Showing posts with label Kolmonen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kolmonen. Show all posts

Monday, June 29, 2015

My visit to Finland - more questions than answers?

I've just got back from a two week trip to Finland with Mrs ETS, involving six matches of different levels, 2600km driven and far too much coffee for one man. Those hire car journeys need some sort of conversation, so I thought I'd share some of the points with you - feel free to comment on the usual channels with your views, it'd be nice to get as many opinions as possible.

1. The casual supporter isn't catered for
I'm almost a professional football watcher - I've seen hundreds of live games all over Europe, and always want to watch more. But Mrs ETS isn't, nor is her seven-year-old godson. Imagine having to explain to them that you can just pick any seat (but not those ones, they're for sponsors) and if you go to the toilet/bar, someone else may take it. There aren't enough female toilets too. I love that I can stand at a game, if I want - but what if the only seating is a wet wooden bench? I don't care, but I bet a lot of potential future fans would...

View from astroturf in Turku

2. A little decent merchandise goes a long way
The laugh of the chap in Pori's Intersport will stay with me for a while. When I asked if they sold FC Jazz jerseys, he cackled like a witch. Once he calmed down, he did say that the local department store had some. Which amounted to a screen printed t-shirt and a baseball cap. Maybe I've been spoiled with Premier League megastores, but is it too much to be able to buy a replica shirt? Something to make the boys at 5-a-side jealous? Even if it doesn't have the sponsors on, that's the international currency people recognise. Apparently HJK have sold a lot of jerseys in Japan - I bet those fans wouldn't buy some crappy thing made in a garage.

3. Saying "it's always been like that" is terrible
"But it's Finland" was another common phrase I heard. It's hard enough to explain to people why I follow Finnish football, beyond that it's a hobby... I know people prefer Barcelona and Liverpool to Honka and RoPS, but at least try. It's a phrase common in most workplaces around the world, and most football clubs too. But a bit of risk, a bit of ambition, a bit of innovation. Some clubs use social media well, some market very well. Dream big.

4. Engage with fans, not online gamblers
Some of the scheduling is weird. It seems that some fixtures are arranged with the main purpose of appealing to the people who like to stick a quid on the games in the summer when there's no other football on. Few top division fixtures are played at a weekend, making it harder to travel and establish a culture. The Ilves v HJK game last week was outstanding, a Friday night, full house, fans could relax a little bit with the working week over (for those who weren't on summer holiday) and the atmosphere showed, with the game ending early enough for people to go out after.

5. How many sponsors is too many?
This corner kick is sponsored by Yadda Yadda. Adverts for injury lawyers while a player is injured. Squeezing an extra logo onto socks. Calm down dear. I know times are tough, especially in the lower divisions. But please, sometimes, less is more.

6. If someone is trying to help, don't be rude
There's an old episode of the Simpsons where movie producers want to make a Radioactive Man film in Springfield. But the city take the piss so much that the filmmakers scuttle back to Hollywood after being levied a "leaving town tax". I don't get paid to do ETS. In real terms, it costs quite a lot, both in my time and arranging holidays, visiting family and the money I have to shell out to watch games. I've received quite a lot of hostility and a "take, take, take" attitude, with little in return. I reckon I probably do as much to market Finnish football as a lot of people who get paid to do it. I know I don't speak much Finnish, but please - a reply to an email or tweet, or even a thank you, makes it all worthwhile. There were times on the trip when I considered packing it all in due to the attitudes of some, it could be said that the trip to Tampere probably saved ETS. But then, what else would I talk to people about in the sauna?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Atletico Malmi ready for Kolmonen 2015

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.

Tico Tico!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Atletico Malmi update

For those of your who've been paying attention, this season I've decided to join forces with a lower division club to raise their profile, to find out a little bit more about football in the capital and also to share some knowledge (I work for an English non-league club).

You're welcome!

So it was Atletico Malmi of the Helsinki Kolmonen/2 division (fourth tier) who got in touch. Since January, the club have progressed through to the fourth round of the Suomen Cup for the first time in their history, where they'll play JanPa on Sunday March 22nd in Janakkala.

If you're planning on visiting the Helsinki area this summer, you could do a lot worse than visit a Malmi league game, where you're guaranteed a warm welcome. Their division fixtures are on this link, get yourself along to a game or two.

With the current exchange rate being very favourable for those who shop in pounds, you're also welcome to sponsor the club. There is a link (in Finnish) to more information, but they're welcoming of any creative input which would help. I paid 100 Euros for a spot on the website, which paid for three training sessions for the team. Even a shirt sponsorship would be available, albeit for a fair bit more than what I paid...

I've had a couple of enquiries about replica jerseys, I've been told they're just awaiting a few more details.

Other shirt sizes should be available...

Keep following the club on Twitter and Facebook for more info. Tico tico!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Introducing Atletico Malmi

In December, I was looking at ways to do things slightly differently - there is a lot more to Finnish football than the national team and Veikkausliiga. Like in England, a lot of the clubs lower down the ladder run on small amounts of money, contributed by locals and operated by fans, volunteers and ambitious coaches. I decided to focus some of the attention onto a couple of teams, one from the Helsinki area and another from my wife's home region of Savo. I've made approaches and the clubs are willing - hopefully we'll give some extra support to these sides, get a few more people through the doors and following on social media.

So I'd like to introduce the first partner club for 2015, Atletico Malmi based in North-Eastern Helsinki. Their team manager Janne Vottonen has sent through some details of the club.

We started from the Seventh division back 2002 and were actually the worst team of whole Finland that year. Now our first team is playing already in 3rd Division/Kolmonen (the fourth tier) and is one of the favourites to get a promotion as far as you ask me. So there's been happening quite a lot during these 13 years and even before that when MPS/Atletico was founded in 1993 as a junior team for boys born in 1986. Lot's of good stories and nice-to-know-facts about the team and what we think about football. I myself started as Atletico-player in 1998 and became a "general manager" in 2006 with my colleague V-P Liimatainen. We are still running both teams and we play mainly in our second team, Atletico Akatemia (5th division/Vitonen). All of the players in both of the teams are about the same age as we are, mainly 24-28 years old and some of those have a background in other higher level teams but the spirit and the athmosphere we have is tempting for many of those who decide they're not good enough to make money by playing.

So that's an introduction to Atletico. I'll be visiting them in June 2015, hopefully the fixtures will be confirmed soon. In the meantime, we would all really appreciate if you could pop along over the course of the year if you're in the area. The club have Facebook and Twitter pages to follow, while there will be regular updates on ETS.

Janne has told me that the club will be looking to produce some merchandise at some point in the Spring - wouldn't your five-a-side teammates be curious to know who this exotic team is that you're supporting? Or your company could invest in shirt sponsorship - we all know a Finnish football jersey doesn't look right without at least ten different logos...

Atletico's first big game of the year will take place on Sunday 15th February at 1830 local time in the second round of the Suomen Cup against the winner of HIFK/3 and HIFK/4...