Football in Lapland

About the author of this post: My name is Oleksandr. I am originally from Ukraine and I am studying Tourism at Lapland University of Applied Sciences.  I received the invitation to the entrance examination from LapinAMK. I did not consider the examination seriously and did not believe in myself after the first fail with Master program which I applied previously. I have passed the exam in the end and considered it as a miracle and as a reasonable occasion to leave Ukraine and to try something definitely unknown, because I did not know anything about Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Polar night, Northern Lights and etc. before I moved here.

From Shevchenko to Roman Eremenko

I’m Ukrainian and, almost every small boy in Ukraine, during my childhood was passionate about football. The main influence such phenomenon caused by the capital football club Dynamo Kiev with its legendary coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi. He managed to build up quite strong team which became respectable in Europe football arena at late 90’s. Coach`s game philosophy was based on building the holistic team “star” rather than team full of “stars”. Two Spanish grand Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were outdone by Ukrainian club as a result of great team work. Such players as Oleh Luzhny (Arsenal FC), Serhiy Rebrov (Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United) and of course Andriy Shevchenko revealed in Kiev. The last well-known player does not need any introduction, I think. Huuhkajat (Owls) also represented Dynamo Kiev by its midfielder Roman Eremenko in 2008. I find this period quite valuable for Eremenko’s development in his career as a football player.

Veikkausliiga: Premier finnish football league

However, the sport number 1 in Finland is ice-hockey; I consider Finnish football quite interesting issue which needs special attention. Local professional football league includes 3 divisions: Veikkausliiga, Ykkönen and Kakkonen. The highest one is Veikkausliiga. It was founded in 1990 and consists of 12 teams.

Rovaniemi Stadium

Rovaniemi football stadium (Picture: Oleksandr Iamnytskyi)

Of course, the history of premier division and Finnish football in general lasts much more. The football season in Finland scheduled from April to October, so it is an opportunity to visit matches during summer period, not like in the most Championships in Europe. The most titled football club is HJK from Helsinki with 27 Championship titles. Interesting fact that once in a history HJK played against Ukrainian club in UEFA Cup. It happened in season 96-97 during First UEFA Cup round. The opponent of HJK was Chernomorets Odessa (my favorite football club in Ukrainian Premier League). The sailors won on aggregate 4-2.

RoPS: Rovaniemi football team

My favorite Finnish team is also playing in Veikkausliiga, its name RoPS and of course it is from Rovaniemi. It was founded in 1950. In 2013 RoPS won Finnish Cup for the second time in club history and participated in 2nd qualify round to UEFA Europe League. The opponent was Greek football club Asteras from Tripoli. Despite the draw in first match, RoPS lost the second game in Greece on aggregate 3-5 and left the tournament. I guess Europa League match brought the impulse for starting the renovation of the local stadium. The head coach of football club from Rovaniemi is Juha Malinen. My favorite players are Jean Fridolin Nganbe Nganbe and Alexandr Kokko.
I visited almost all home matches of RoPS during the last season and waiting for the actual season start.

Stands of Rovanemi Stadium

The bleachers have a capacity of 2.500 people. (Picture: Oleksandr Iamnytskyi)

The local stadium is quite small at the moment it is always busy; the atmosphere during the games is warm. I have to say that people in Rovaniemi visit RoPS matches and support the Lappish team with special attitude. I discovered that during the break between two halves, supporters are making a long queue to buy sausage (makkara) and coffee. This fan attitude totally differs from the other European fan cultures during football matches.

On the 12th of April the actual season in Veikkausliiga starts for RoPS with game against the leader from capital HJK. I expect Rovaniemi team will take match revenge for the Liiga Cup loss which had happened at the local stadium on the 4th of April with score 0-2.

I wish my Finnish club great victories and looking forward for the beginning of the season.

Author: Lapland Safaris

This is the blog of Lapland Safaris, which is a company specialized in all sort of activities in Finnish Lapland both in winter and in summertime. In winter we enjoy snowmobiling, husky and reindeer-sledge rides, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing among other things. During the summer we cruise on river boats, visit the reindeer and husky farms, and hike in the forests. Do you have questions? Ask us anything in the comments of this post. We will be happy to help you!

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