29/08/2016 16:22
CEV Satellite at Kisakallio lays cornerstone for further growth of Beach Volleyball in Finland
2016 CEV Satellite - Kisakallio

Kisakallio, Finland, August 29, 2016. The Kisakallio Sports Institute played host last week to the first CEV Beach Volleyball tournament ever held on Finnish soil. The organisers could not ask for anything better than four days blessed with sun and ideal weather conditions, with the climax reached on Sunday when home stars Riikka Lehtonen (pictured) and Taru Lahti completed a clean run to net the gold medal much to the delight of a partisan crowd.

Though Lehtonen and Lahti missed out on qualifying to the Rio 2016 Olympics earlier this summer, this apparent setback will not prevent Beach Volleyball from continuing its steady growth and development in Finland. And Kisakallio – one of 11 such sports institutes punctuating the Finnish territory which was established in 1966 – will play a pivotal role in fostering this process.

It all started last year when Kisakallio hosted a double-gender event open to teams from the North European Volleyball Zonal Association (NEVZA) before this year the centre which lies some 7 km from the city of Lohja raised the bar even higher by hosting a CEV women’s-only Satellite. “Beach Volleyball is one of five sports that we have placed at the core of our strategic vision for the future, further development of our institute. We have an agreement in place with the Finnish Volleyball Association so their teams train here during the summer, before moving to an indoor hall in Helsinki for the winter time,” explains the Principal of Kisakallio, Mr Asko Härkönen, who has a wealth of experience in sports and a personal background in decathlon.

One of many indoor facilities available at Kisakallio Sports Institute which is being used, inter alia, for Volleyball, Basketball, Archery and Gymnastics

Apart from basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, orienteering and handball, Beach Volleyball is one of the strategic assets Kisakallio is planning to work on. “Our sports institute is ideally located, since it takes only 45-50 minutes to get here from Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. On top of this, we have a number of experts and qualified coaches who can provide guidance and assistance in a number of areas, including biomechanics and motor skills.”

Kisakallio is not a place where only elite athletes can feel at home. It is actually ‘populated’ by hundreds of kids and teens who spend a few days every year to attend training camps in sports as diverse as ice hockey, basketball, handball, floorball, rhythmic gymnastics and many more. It is also an ideal place for young families with children where to spend their holidays surrounded by an amazing scenery. “As far as possible we try to involve the parents in the physical education of their children, because we want them to understand the importance of doing physical exercise. Only a few of the many kids visiting Kisakallio will one day become elite or professional athletes, but it is important that they embrace a healthy lifestyle, staying away from their cell phones or computer games. This explains why we put so much emphasis on the development of basic skills, and especially on motor skills, since coordination and the ability to control each part of the body lay the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.”

The organisation of the CEV Satellite drew positive reviews from players and media alike, with national broadcasting company YLE sending a crew to Kisakallio to record impressions and footage from the tournament which were included in the daily sports news – aired on prime time.

Mr Asko Härkönen and the area of Kisakallio Sports Institute where a permanent Beach Volleyball stadium is expected to be built in the future

“We have set very ambitious goals for the future and there is a number of areas we would like to invest in,” Härkönen explains. “These include the development of Beach Volleyball. We are planning to build a permanent Beach Volleyball stadium right by the lake which would exploit a natural canyon. However, we take things step by step as we want to make sure that our investments are sustainable and will produce results in the long term.”

Finland won only one medal – a bronze in women’s boxing – at the Rio 2016 Olympics and this is currently being regarded as some kind of a disaster by the National Olympic Committee. The 11 sports institutes disseminated across the Land of a Thousand lakes are expected to play a key role in the ‘resurrection’ of Finnish athletes. However, their respective efforts and activities have to be coordinated from the top to make sure they all work for one and the same goal. 

A panoramic view of Kisakallio Sports Institute which last week hosted the first CEV Beach Volleyball Satellite ever held on Finnish soil

Beach Volleyball is still on the rise and the Finnish Volleyball Association together with the Kisakallio Sports Institute very much hope that at least one Finnish team will make it to the next Olympics in four years’ time. “We are committed to growing Beach Volleyball and sports in Finland,” Mr Härkönen added. “However, it all starts with strategic, coordinated long-term planning. Much focus and emphasis have also to be put on the continuous education of our coaches and our institute is already playing a leading role in this sense as well. I am happy with the success of our first CEV Satellite and hope we can continue to grow Beach Volleyball in Finland and can help our athletes make it to the world’s elite.”

News nr. 1 of 9
28/08/2016 17:08:00
Home party for Lehtonen and Lahti as Kisakallio Satellite comes to an end

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