A Short History of FC Liikunta – The football team of the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland)
Starting the program
It was year 2005 when Timo Laakso, Ville Sairanen and Joel Nissinen got the idea to establish the football team of the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences. The guys thought that the team should participate in the European Universities Championships, which were held in Eindhoven in 2006. However the Championships of 2006 came too early for “Team Liikunta” and the goals were set to next year.
By that time the Team Liikunta was also anxious to restart organizing the national football tournament for the Finnish universities. Therefore the Finnish Students Football Championships were held in 2006 in Jyväskylä for the first time in many years. The team Liikunta itself was gathered quickly and expectations weren’t so high. Despite the short preparations the result was excellent. Team Liikunta won the Championship. Road to the European Championships in Rome was clear.
In the autumn of 2006 the team started to practice regularly for the upcoming tournament in Rome 2007. Joel was the first coach of the Team Liikunta and he organized the trainings. He did a very good job and the team was getting to know each other very fast. At the same time Ville was doing pretty much everything else concerning the team.
First friendly matches against local clubs were played in the beginning of year 2007. Later in the spring the Finnish Students Championships were once again held in Jyväskylä. Compared to the last year the team had prepared better and expectations were high. Team Liikunta came up with the goods and won the Championships for the second time.
Rome 2007 – First highlight
Summer 2007 was historical for Team Liikunta. European Championships in Rome was the highlight of the summer. Team suffered lots of injuries before the tournament and only 15 players were able to make the trip. Regardless of the bad luck with the injuries the team decided to give their best and battle it out against the tough field of opponents. In the preliminary round Team Liikunta lost clearly their matches against Italy, Germany and Spain. In the first playoff match Finland suffered a poignant defeat to Poland but in the last match of the tournament Team Liikunta defeated team Turkey 5-1 and took their first and only victory of the tournament. Because of that sweet victory the after-taste from the first Championships was pretty good.
In the autumn 2007 trainings continued and lecturer Timo Laakso was appointed as the head coach of the team. Joel continued as his assistant coach. In the first months of year 2008 the team played some friendly matches successfully. Preparations for the EUC in Kiev were on the track.
Kiev 2008 – Story continues
In Kiev Team Liikunta played in the same group with France and Azerbaijan in the preliminary round. France – the team that ultimately won the Championships – was too strong for Team Liikunta. Instead against Azerbaijan the battle was hard. Team Liikunta lost despite the control of the game and disappointment was obvious. In the first playoff match Team Liikunta lost to Cyprus. That was to be the last match of the tournament for Team Liikunta because Team Russia had already left home and didn’t play their last match. Therefore Team Liikunta played only three games and finished in 13th place in the tournament.
In the autumn 2008 the Finnish Students Championship was cancelled and because of appearences in the last two European Championships Team Liikunta got the right to represent Finland once again in Wroclaw 2009. The team was assembled in September and after that the team trained together almost every week. Good results from the friendly matches in the beginning of year 2009 set the expectations high for the Finnish Students Championships. Team Liikunta coasted to the final of the tournament and defeated Team US Skädäm in the final match. Thanks to the victory Team Liikunta will represent Finland also in European Universities Championships in Warsaw 2010.
Wroclaw 2009 – New target
In the European Universities Championships in Wroclaw 2009 team Liikunta set up the target to reach the top 8 teams. As a part of new, more ambitious strategy the team started to call themselves as FC Liikunta. The new name was introduced in order to underline the team’s actions as more like a proper football club than just a team of students.
In the opening match of the tournament FC Liikunta played against Poland. The home team played well and after the first half the game was 2-0 for home team. In the second half FC Liikunta played improved their game, but the final score was 2-1 for the Polish team. In the second match FC Liikunta met Cyprus. Previous year in Kiev Cyprus won, and that’s why FC Liikunta was extremely motivated to win the match. FC Liikunta scored an early goal, which ultimately remained the only goal in the match. Close run, but well-earned win for FC Liikunta.
In the last round robin match FC Liikunta met team France, last year’s champions. The match was fair and energetic. In the second half FC Liikunta got a free kick, and Tomi Lahtinen was set to shoot the free kick. Fantastic shot by Lahtinen assured the leading position to Finns. Only five minutes before the final whistle, Team France equalized the match with a little bit of luck. The game ended 1-1 and FC Liikunta was placed third in the group.
In the first playoff match FC Liikunta met another team from Poland. After 20 minutes Poland was in the lead with two goals. FC Liikunta woke up in the game a little bit late, but the rise was awesome. Two fast goals by Joel Nissinen and Aapo Autio and the teams were even again. In the second half FC Liikunta scored also two nice goals and the result was 4-2 to FC Liikunta. In the last match of the tournament FC Liikunta met Team Spain. FC Liikunta had many injuries and the players were already tired. Team Spain was playing streets ahead than FC Liikunta and the match ended 5-0 for the Spanish. FC Liikunta played a good tournament (finished 10th) and in the closing seremonies FC Liikunta was nominated as the tournaments Fair Play -team.
Warsaw 2010 – Students only
FC Liikunta trained the season with subordination of Timo Laakso and Jarkko Jokiranta. Unfortunately due to the family reasons lecturer Timo Laakso was forced to stay at home. Hence, this year in Warsaw the team was only consisting of students. Jarkko Jokiranta was corresponding the coaching, Mikko Huhtiniemi, Kasper Mäkelä and Eemeli Jokinen took care of all other arrangements and Ville Sairanen was in charge of communication.
The tournament started with the draw where the team was put in the same group with University of Montpellier (FRA) and University on Kielce (POL). For the team the tournament started of terrible. We lost to the University of Montpellier 3-0 (1-0). The team had high confidence before the match but everything just went wrong. The defence had communication problems and the attack had finishing porblems.
In the second match it was about life and death. FC Liikunta had to win the match in order to go through to the quarter finals. The match was lot better than the first but unfortunatly in the end FC Liikunta lost it. University of Kielce was better 2-3 (1-2). The goals were scored by Jukka Kosonen and Mikko Huhtiniemi. So the team was out from the big matches.
In the first playoff match FC Liikunta played against University of Wursburg (GER). The match started of brilliantly when legendary Joel Nissinen scored 1-0 from beautiful breakaway. FC Liikunta played much better than in the first matches but in the end it didn’t help. Germans won the match 1-2 (1-1) with two controversial penalties.
In the last match it was about positions 11 and 12 and the opponent was University of Nakhchivan (AZE). The match was hideous for FC Liikunta. The final result was 4-0 (2-0). So FC Liikunta played four matches in the tournament and lost them all. Expectations for the tournament were really high but this time the team couldn’t play in their highest level. Nevertheless the team had great time in Poland and everybody got many good memories from the trip.
Cordoba 2012 – Finally to the top eight!
The year 2011 FC Liikunta didn’t participate to the European Universities Championships. So in the summer of 2012 the team was really fired up to play in the tournament. This was easy to see in all acitivity on and off the pitch. The new couch Eemeli Jokinen had good energy and enthusiasm and it sticked to everybody in the team.
This time the group was FC Liikunta, University of Angelus Silesius (POL), University of Bochum (GER) and University of Letterkenny (IRL). In the first match FC Liikunta played maybe the best match in the history of the team and won Angelus Silesius (POL) 2-1 (2-0). Everything worked of perfectly and the team got a perfect start to the tournament. Scorers in the first match were Aapo Autio and Jukka Kosonen.
In the second match FC Liikunta suffered a bad 0-1 (0-0) loss to University of Bochum (GER). The main reason to the loss was the suspension of Jani Sarajärvi who got a red card against Poland. He was the leading player of the team and everybody could see his absence.
In the third match it was again about life and death. With a win FC Liikunta gould proceed to quarter finals first time in the history of the team. This time FC Liikunta had the talent and confidence and it destroyed the University of Letterkenny (IRL) in the last match and advanced to the big matches. The match ended 5-1 (2-0) and the scorers were Jukka Kosonen x2, Aapo Autio, Lasse Saari and Ville Vähäkoitti.
In the thrilling quarter final FC Liikunta played against University of Cyprus. The match was really tough and both teams had good goalscoring opportunities. Neither couldn’t score so the match went first to overtime and the to nervewrecking penalties. Nobody of FC Liikunta couldn’t handle the high pressures and the team lost the penalty shootout 0-3. So the team ended up playing of ranks 6 to 8.
In the next to playoff matches the story of the match was equal and both went to penalties. The first match was against University of Tubingen (GER) and the score was 3-5 to the Germans after penalties. In the last match FC Liikunta played again against University of Angelus Silesius (POL). This time the final result was 1-1 and third time in the tournament the conclusion was made by pentalties and again the team lost them. The goal was scored by Jukka Kosonen who played an excellent tournament and scored four times.
The final position for the team was 8 which is the best position for the team. However the team was highly depressed after the tournament because of the three lost in the penalties. With better nerves and penalty skills the team could have played in the semifinals.
Almeria 2013 – Bact to the bottom
In the summer of 2013 the FC Liikunta participated the sixth time to the European Universities Championships. The spring wasn’t perfect for the preparation because the team wasn’t sure if it will be accepted to the tournament. The reason was that FC Liikunta didn’t win the Finnish championship so it was the second team of Finland to apply to the European championship. Happily in the end of May the the got approved and the preparations could start.
In the tournament FC Liikunta was in the same group with University of Nottingham (GBR), University of Minho (POR) and University of Halle (GER). FC Liikunta lost all three matches and was again forced out from the top eight.
First match was tight and even but in the end Nottingham took three poinst with 2-0 (0-0). FC Liikunta had a few good goalscoring opportunities but bad mistakes in the defence cost a bad loss. In the second group match the team didn’t have a chance against University of Minho (POR). The portugueses played almost the whole match with ten players but eventhough they were a lot better team. The technical skills of the Portugal team was phenomenal and FC Liikunta couldn’t handle it. In the end the final result was 0-1 (0-0). So the result doesn’t tell everything. In the last group match FC Liikunta encountered University of Halle (GER). FC Liikunta started the match well when Juhani Salo scored 1-0 to the finns. The lead didn’t last to the end because the Germans socred two goals from set pieces. First from a penalty and second from free kick that was awarded from bad referee mistake.
In the playoffs FC Liikunta played against University of Freiburg (GER), University of Nyíregyháza (HUN) and University of applied sciences of Vierumäki (FIN). The team lost the first two matches (FIN-GER 0-1 and FIN-HUN 1-3) and was forced to play the last match against the finnish rivals from Vierumäki. The match was about positions 15 and 16 but both teams were fired up to the match. FC Liikunta showed of better skills and stamina and won the match with clear 4-0 (3-0) result. Goalscorers were Eemeli Jokinen, Tom Korolainen and Ville Vähäkoitti x2. The goal was first for the legendary player/coach Eemeli Jokinen and the match was his last in the European Championships. So it was a great ending for pretty bad tournament.
To be continued!