In my day job, I've worked with a variety of different people. Some wonderful, some awful, most ok. One is a contestant on this week's Come Dine With Me (Mark aka Bobby), another is the spitting image of Giles from Gogglebox. I didn't ever think that one colleague, someone I have a lot of time for, would have a brother who would one day manage a Finnish football club I also have a lot of time for. But nonetheless, I should have twigged earlier that Sinead's brother is the new boss of FF Jaro, Kristian Heames. Through Sinead, I managed to get a few questions in, all for the price of some jelly popping candy chocolate. Even after all those times I bored her to tears by talking about the dog...
How did you end up at Jaro? Did you have previous links to the club?
I have a coaching company in England called FDS, we work with West Bromwich Albion and have been coaching in Finland for nearly 10 years. In that time we worked with Jaro and got to know people at the club and on the board. After Nikolas Vidjeskog was coming to the end of his caretaker role they interviewed me whilst I was in Finland, I felt it went well and they offered me the job that evening with a three day start time which was a bit of surprise!
You've done a number of other roles in football, how have they prepared you for management?
I think spending time delivering sessions to many thousands of players over the last 16 years prepares you well for working with a new group. Whoever you coach you have to earn their respect and give them what they need to improve and perform. Also having worked in strength and conditioning, scouting, coaching and business has given me a broad range of experiences which help when you have to cover a lot as a head coach of a small budget club.
Do you think the club can achieve promotion next season?
Yes and that is what we are aiming for.
The infrastructure of clubs varies hugely, how is Jaro looking below the first team?
There are many juniors playing and for the size of town and club they compete well in Finland. The ultimate success being the number of players making it through to play for the first team.
Jaro have a good recent history of bringing through young players (Öst, Eremenko, Atakayi, Skrabb etc), any more on the production line?
Samu Alanko was a big plus from this season. At 18 years old to score seven in eight at the end of the season and starting three games was obviously a success. Also local boy Joni Remesaho, who at 23 made his Jaro debut and a big impact even though it was his first experience of the Ykkönen. Going forward we have Adam Vidjeskog and Oskar Sandström, who I would expect to make good progress and an impact next season, with possibly some B juniors like Axel Vidjeskog moving up.
Joni Remesaho and Kristian (via FF Jaro Facebook)
What have you changed at the club since you arrived? Results suggest a big improvement.
There were many good things in place already but I think confidence and team spirit certainly improved quickly when I arrived. I think this spirit is so important and we used that to win all types of games. When you win games the confidence comes. To achieve this on the pitch, we tried to play in a positive manner and also by increasing the tempo which we played at.
There's a big mix of nationalities in the squad - what is the team spirit like?
Really good, but it took some work. We are currently in the process of building next years squad. The local players need to be recruited first as you need at least 9 homegrown players. After that it is about selecting the right players from outside the club, whether they are Finnish or elsewhere.
What are your early thoughts on living in Finland? How much of a culture shock has it been?
I have been in Finland many times over the last ten years and spent a lot of time with Finnish people, so the culture shock was not that big, I feel quite comfortable here. I think the social media thing has already boosted the club, albeit in a small way. The club's Facebook page seems to have had a lot of new likes from England since I started!
Woody wearing my Jaro shirt - thanks Viktor!
A big thank you to Kristian for his time and Sinead for sorting it out. More interviews over the winter months. You can hear more from Kristian in an audio interview with local paper Österbottens Tidning, available from this link.