Women head coach for coaching the national hockey team Juuso Toivolan joins the group for next season Saara Niemi, who also serves as the head coach of HIFK. HIFK plays in the women’s main series.
HS met at Niemi, 36, in connection with a hockey journalists’ seminar in Tampere and asked the future national team coach how women’s hockey will be developed so that the future is even better.
The women’s national team took the Olympic bronze, but the gap to the top was big. What should be done to narrow the gap?
“Canada had its own chapter in the Olympics. They, too, had escaped from the United States playfully and physically. Finland would have had the opportunity to overthrow the USA on the best day, but it did not. We will not move in the same number of players in the future, but we need to get more players to make the competition tougher. ”
“Generational change is coming to the new Olympics. Many will continue, but now is a good time to start bringing good young, skilled players to the national team. Young people are more and more ready all the time, the task of the national team is to keep the flame up and help towards dreams. By quantity, we will never beat Canada and the United States. We need to help the cutting edge and catch up with tact. ”
Due to differences in levels, the place of women’s hockey in the Olympics has been questioned. Is there a place for the Olympics?
“Every time the Olympics take it out. I leave the debate to its own devices. Women’s hockey is part of the Olympics and has earned its place there. There were now ten teams, which means that newcomers cannot be at the same level as they have been since 1998. Internationally, women’s hockey is moving forward. Differences in levels are also seen on the men’s side and in the boys’ World Cup. ”
Where men have a dream of a professional career in addition to national team dreams, women have virtually no dream of a professional career. Can women’s hockey develop without improving opportunities to play their profession?
“It would be a big deal to get the right set of professionals for women in North America. That would lengthen the careers of top players, which would keep the level going. Also important is the university series NCAA, where I myself have played and received my education. It is currently the very series in women’s hockey, with nearly 40 teams with good resources and players. The NCAA is a place worth pursuing. There are also a lot of players from Europe going there with a full scholarship. Those are the big sums you get in four years. ”
“A professional series would be important to what happens after a university series. Especially when the Russian series is what it is because of the war. In Sweden, many play their profession. There, the salary can be used to live a gaming career if you belong to the supportive athletes of the Ministry of Education and Culture. “
Athlete grants for female lions will be awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Does the Hockey Federation do enough for women and girls?
“The hockey association puts a lot of money into the national team camping, and the national team camps a lot. This year the camps will be launched in May, there will be a camp in July-August. The World Cup at the turn of August-September, and the camps will continue again in November. Full-time head coach Juuso Toivola is also an important and real investment. ”
The International Hockey Federation (IIHF) has been criticized during the Corona for the transfer of tournaments for women and girls. Is the IIHF’s work in front of women’s hockey determined enough?
“In January, I was disappointed when the girls’ race was canceled and there was no same communication as the men’s under-20 race. It was a pleasure to see that in June, the Girl Lions will also be able to play at the World Championships in the US, as will men under the age of 20. Surely there is a struggle for resources there as well. It’s great to see that there’s a lot of talk in the media and social media for women’s and girls ’national teams. A feeling has been found there. ”
The everyday life of the women’s league was considered inadequate last year for domestic Olympic candidates and they wanted to train with the boys. What needs to change in the women’s league to make everyday life better?
“Everything starts with each club’s own daily life and values. How do you want to develop women’s hockey and the girls’ path? Are resources being created for what kind of coaching women have? First and foremost, clubs need to be more involved. ”
“My own company HIFK is in a grateful position. We have newcomers because it is possible to play for free, bet on the sport and some of our players have, for example, housing and car benefits. It has developed. Tärki practices with the boys, but it is also important to practice as a team, because the team also needs to develop. The best players push the middle level forward, and the whole is evolving. ”
In the autumn season, the venues for the HIFK and Kiekko-Espoo games were rotated when the ice shifts were moved due to the World Championships in floorball. You finally played in Pirkkola’s second hall. How did the appreciation of the series feel at that moment?
“According to the rules, 3.5 hours of ice must be reserved for the U20 team game and 2.5 hours is enough for the women’s league games. We went through the rule book, but it made me think about what was going on. I share the belief that as we work and collaborate, the value grows. ”
What is the main goal for women in hockey to be set for the upcoming Olympics?
“The goal is to brighten the color of the Olympic medal. In addition to success, the women’s league is evolving and doing better, and the girls ’hockey trail is getting better. The strategy is now being made in the union for four years. There will also be priorities. ”
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