WWC17ca PREVIEW: Finland
The reigning European Champion opens the 2017 tournament looking to improve upon a pair of bronze medals earned at the first two IFAF Women’s World Championships in 2010 and 2013.
“Finnish football has grown a lot since 2013 tournament,” said a team representative. “We had a wide range of players to choose from… many good players didn’t make the team (this year) and now we have more depth on our roster than we have had in previous world championships.”
Finland describes their team as a, “mix of young and veteran players with a good understanding of football.” It’s not hard to see why as they benefit from the return of 11 players from the 2013 tournament, seven of which also played in 2010.
They’ll face a very tough road to the podium, beginning with a day one matchup against tournament newcomer Great Britain. This matchup is the only opening day game to feature teams that have previously played as Finland defeated Great Britain 50-12 to capture the European Championship in 2015.
Heading into Langley, Finland’s coaching staff returns from their European title run intact, hoping for a repeat medal performance.
The country’s national leagues began in May, which the team believes will help their players as they’ve had a chance to play some tough games in preparation for the worlds.
Should they win on opening day, they’ll face Canada on June 27 but if they lose, they’ll draw an even tougher matchup against two-time gold medalist, Team USA.
If the Canada-Finland matchup materializes, Finland will look to give this year’s host nation a taste of their own medicine as Canada’s second-half come-from-behind victory sent Finland, the 2013 host nation, to the bronze medal game in Vantaa, Finland.
Players to watch
Name of player
|Riikka Kallio||DL||Helsinki Roosters|
|Jenni Linden||RB||Helsinki Roosters|
|Suvi Mäntyniemi||OL||Tampere Saints|
|Kirsti Nirhamo||WR||Helsinki Wolverines|
|Anna-Reetta Juntunen||DB||Oulu Northern Lights|
|Elina Seppälä||DL||Helsinki Wolverines|
History of women’s tackle football in Finland
American football came to Finland in the late 1970’s as high school students returned home with the sport following exchanges in the United States. In 1976, the American Football Association of Finland, “SAJL” was founded and the game moved from a school sport to becoming more of a club sport.
Women have been playing with full contact football since 2008 while flag football has been played since the 1980’s.
In 2008, there were five female teams playing with around 70 licenced players. Today there are over 500 licenced female players making up 20 teams which play in three different levels.
Finland’s 2017 tournament roster consists of five players who have taken part in every international tournament played. They are Anette Backman (DB), Elina Kero (LB), Elina Seppala (DL), Minttu Hurme (OL), and Sari Kuosmanen (WR). Finland has played a total of 19 international games including various championship tournaments, yearly games against Sweden and a friendly game against Germany. Defensive lineman Elina Seppala and offensive lineman Minttu Hurme are the only players that have taken part in all of them.
This post is also available in: French