Coaching | “Creating disappointments is exhausting” – Coaching can be hard, but in difficult moments the players help you cope

Camilla Ojala, soccer coach of Espoo’s Palloseura, coaches without monetary compensation and spends more than ten hours a week on the side of the field. He is one of many: there are an estimated 80,000 sports coaches in Finland, which is still too few.

“Hi Camilla!” can be heard from the edge of Latokartano’s artificial turf.

Assistant coach of the Espoo Palloseura TU12–13 team Camilla Ojala rushes to the screamers. They are the players of the team waiting for Ojala to start the warm-up instructions together with another assistant coach Petri Gesterberg’s with.

Ojala digs out a few marker cones from her bag and places them on the ground a short distance apart.

Preparation for Thursday night’s district series match against Gnistan can begin.

Ojala started coaching six years ago when his daughter wanted to start soccer.

At the same time, EPS founded its own team for those born in 2010, and Ojala volunteered as an assistant coach.

Since then, football has taken up a large part of his free time. Currently, the team practices three times a week, and in the summer there are usually at least one game a week, up to four during interview week.

Ojala coaches as a volunteer, which means he does not receive monetary compensation for coaching.

“There are not enough coaches. Or maybe rather the way that the more of them, the better.”

The duties of the assistant coach include familiarizing yourself with the training content planned by the responsible coaches in advance and guiding during training and games.

There is not always a paid coach present at the matches, so the assistant coaches are usually responsible for them.

In addition, Ojala books tournaments and matches and plans game lineups together with the responsible coaches.

“Rarely do I spend less than ten hours a week coaching,” he calculates.

From the speaker fresh, the biggest pop songs of recent years, and the strong wind cools the warm early evening just right.

Ojala advises the players to warm up first by running. After that, the girls pass and carry the ball from one line to another.

It’s almost a quarter to the start of the game.

“If you have to go to the bathroom, you have to do it now,” reminds Ojala.

Nobody signs up. Ojala guides the last part of the warm-up.

“And then wall passes!”

Camilla Ojala oversees the warm-up before the EPS district series match against Gnistan.

in Finland there are approximately 80,000 sports coaches, of which 4,000 coach as a profession.

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That’s too little.

“There are not enough coaches. Or maybe more like the more of them, the better. When there are creators, we get more high-quality club activities”, executive director of the Finnish Coaches Sari Tuunainen states.

Ojala’s team has around 50 players.

There are a total of nine coaches: both age groups’ own age group coaches who come to practice occasionally, two paid coaches and five volunteers, two of whom are more actively involved.

There are often three coaches in practice, one paid and two volunteers. Sometimes there are only two coaches, in which case coaching a large group is challenging and the quality suffers.

“There are by no means too many of us,” says Ojala.

He has heard from other EPS teams that there is a shortage of volunteer coaches from time to time.

“Many people consider soccer to be an affordable and easy hobby to start, so a large number of players can suddenly come to practice. Then there aren’t enough coaches.”

“The children probably don’t even realize that they are being taught. Training is goal-oriented activity in a slightly hidden way.”

His children Ojala also has experience as a coach in baseball and horse riding.

In baseball, the activities were run by two active parents hired for the position, but there could have been more coaches.

There were no volunteer coaches in the riding, but the paid instructors of the riding school took care of the coaching.

“It was also such that one instructor sometimes pulled very large groups,” says Ojala.

Based on his experiences, those who practice at the highest level of competition can enjoy an organized activity where there are enough coaches. In lower level groups, the situation may be different.

Tuunainen confirms that the difference between competition and hobby groups in particular is often big.

“Club activities and coach training are focused on competition coaching. The coaching of the hobby side has only been properly included in the plans in recent years,” he says.

“Shall we go girls to play soccer?” Ojala asks when there are ten minutes to the start of the match.

He gets enthusiastic responses from the players. They change their warm-up clothes into red jerseys, gather their things and go to the bench laughing.

The coaches gather them in the ring, give last-minute instructions and tell the starting line-up. Applause is given for each name.

When the coaches announce the starting line-up, every player gets a round of applause. Camilla Ojala has an EPS pennant in her hand, which is given to the opponent before the start of the match.

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A couple of minutes before the game, we still run sprints.

“Well then shout!” Ojala exclaims after the last sprint.

The team gathers in the ring in front of the bench and prepares to shout.

“Ee, pee, ez, EPS!”

The starting line-up gathers on the field. The captains shake hands and exchange pennants.

The referee blows the whistle to signal the start of the match.

By profession Ojala is a special early childhood education teacher. The education of a pedagogue helps him in coaching.

He knows how to see children as individuals and understands that what suits one, may not suit another.

“Teaching is my strength. The children probably don’t even realize that they are being taught. Training is goal-oriented activity in a slightly hidden way.”

“It’s a great feeling when a player who hasn’t scored a goal before succeeds in scoring.”

Ojala observes the players’ training and often notices if something is not going well. Then he tells the responsible coach about it and asks him to plan good exercises for the subject.

“Then I notice in the game that the girls have figured it out. It’s amazing,” says Ojala.

Although football is a team sport, he also rejoices in the successes of individuals.

“It’s a great feeling when a player who hasn’t scored a goal before succeeds in scoring.”

“Go just go,” Ojala encourages.

The first half of the match is underway.

The opponent gets close to EPS’s goal and manages to sink the ball into the net.

“Nothing EPS!” Ojala comforts.

Maybe a minute passes and the red shirts equalize.

“Hey, good EPS! It was Lilli’s opening goal”, Ojala rejoices at his protégé’s first ever goal.

Camilla Ojala congratulates Lilli Sinivuor for the first goal of her football career.

After a while, he is already comforting another player on the bench who complains that he doesn’t want to be a defender.

“It doesn’t matter who scores goals if no one defends.”

The girl goes to the field satisfied.

Soon the first half will end, and the players will be replaced.

“It looked pretty nice,” Ojala praises.

In coaching there are downsides.

Ojala often has to wake up early in his free time for games, and coaching generally takes up a lot of free time.

“Sometimes it feels like parents are just buying their children a hobby.”

In addition, level grouping can annoy not only players but also parents.

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“Sometimes the parents are more disappointed with the group divisions than the children. It can even become an avalanche of complaints. Negative feedback rarely comes, but when it does, the disappointment is excruciating. That’s when I feel like I can’t take it anymore, now I’m going to stop,” says Ojala.

Sometimes he is also worried about the parents’ lack of activity.

“Sometimes it feels like parents just buy their children a hobby and don’t know what’s going on there. Many girls already go to practice alone, so their parents may not even take them there. Parents may have a different perception of their children than coaches.”

Active parents could also be a solution to the coach shortage. According to Sari Tuunainen, the clubs could also ask their former athletes to coach.

“Many have their own sport background and great memories of the sport. Hardly anyone will be upset if they are asked to coach.”

In addition, you should be able to start coaching without making big sacrifices.

“We should offer different options. If you want, you could use it for training once or twice a week, or even all evenings and weekends,” says Tuunainen.

Camilla Ojala watches the game with her daughter Elea Ojala.

Unusually What makes Ojala’s coaching career is that he does not have a strong sports background in football. He has always been active, but played football only one season.

Once he wanted to stop coaching because his own skills were not enough.

When the team moved from 5vs5 games to a bigger field to 8vs8 games, Ojala had to learn a lot of new things.

“I had to familiarize myself with what is changing and how the new way of playing works. I thought about whether this is for me, and I considered quitting.”

At the moment of considering quitting, something always makes Ojala continue.

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m out of my mind for going on this. That’s when I find motivation in the players. They are the best in coaching.”

“Yet can’t stand EPS, can’t, can’t, skin, skin, skin!”

Encouraging Ojala sucks. EPS takes a 2–1 lead with a nice shot. The bench bursts into applause.

“Good girls!”

After a while, the final whistle echoes on the pitch.

“Camilla, were we defeated?” the bench asks.

“We won,” Ojala smiles.

Camilla Ojala thinks that the players are the best in coaching.

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