Bandy is one of the oldest team sports in Finland and in the World, and Finland was one of the original founders of International Bandy Federation (nowadays FIB, the Federation of the International Bandy).
The Finnish Bandy Federation
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Leo Segerman member of FIB
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BANDY IN FINLAND
Bandy came to Finland from St. Petersburg at the end of the 1890s, entrenching itself most strongly in Vyborg. Merchant Otto Wächter from Vyborg, who was also the chairman of Viborgs Skridskoklubb, brought the discipline to Finland. On 21 March 1899, the Skridskoklubb team played its first game in St. Petersburg, losing 4-5 to St. Petersburg Amateur Sport Verein.
The winter games held in Sweden at the beginning of 1900 were a predecessor of the Winter Olympic Games and bandy was included in the programme. In 1907, similar winter games were held in Helsinki and bandy was again included. The team from Vyborg was not interested in participating, but the club Polyteknikkojen Urheiluseura (PUS) qualified to compete. The winner of the competition was a combined team from Sweden, which defeated PUS as well as the team from St. Petersburg.
Bandy was gradually played all over the country, and after the Football Association of Finland was founded in 1907, activities began to be organised. The first Finnish Championships were played in 1908. In the finals, PUS beat HIFK 8-3. Bandy is the classic Finnish team ball game because it was in this discipline that the first Finnish Championships were played.
The men’s Finnish Championships in bandy have been determined on an annual basis since 1908, with the exception of the years 1918, 1941 and 1942. The Finnish Championships at A-junior level (under 19 years) were launched in 1943. However, it was not until 1969 that the next junior-level Finnish Championships, E-junior level (under 11 years), were introduced. Today, national championships are organised at five junior levels. In addition, tournaments between districts and within districts are played.
In the discipline’s initial stages from the 1910s to the 1930s, the leading bandy teams in Finland were Viipurin Sudet from Vyborg and Helsingin IFK from Helsinki. These clubs have won 14 Finnish Championships. Most national championships have been taken by Warkauden Pallo 35 (WP 35), which since the 1940s has been, and continues to be, one of our most successful bandy clubs. WP 35 has won a total of 16 Finnish Championships. Bandy clubs from Oulu have been serious contenders from the 1950s onwards. Oulun Palloseura won seven Finnish Championships in the 1950s and 1960s. Oulun Luistinseura (OLS) has been one of our leading bandy clubs since the 1970s, achieving 13 Finnish Championships to date (2004). Another successful bandy team in the 1990s and 2000s is Tornion Palloveikot, which has won three national championships in this decade.
After Finland became independent, it was possible to set up a national team. The historic Finnish team was almost entirely composed of the team Viipurin Sudet. Finland faced off against Sweden in Helsinki on 23 February 1919 and won 4-1 in front of 6000 spectators. One of the spectators was regent C.G.E. Mannerheim. Finland’s second national team opponent was Estonia, against whom Finland played six times in the period 1923-34. Today, these national teams meet each other during the short, intensive season at the World Championships and the Russian Government Cup.
The Football Association of Finland was founded in 1907, and alongside football, bandy was taken into the programme. Already in the 1950s, the bandy clubs and their players wanted to found an independent association, but after a vote, decided to continue within the Football Association of Finland. The Finnish Bandy Association was founded on 18 March 1972.
The first large artificial ice rink was planned in the 1960s but was not actually built until 1977 in Oulunkylä, Helsinki. Other rink projects started slowly, and today (2004) there are 11 artificial ice rinks in eight different places. The metropolitan area has three artificial ice rinks: in Oulunkylä, Kallio and Käpylä. The other artificial ice rinks are situated in Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Pori, Porvoo, Seinäjoki, Turku and Varkaus.
The World Championships in bandy have been organised six times in Finland. The first World Championships were organised in association with the 50th anniversary of the Football Association of Finland at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki in 1957. Finland has also hosted the World Championships in 1967, 1975, 1983, 1991 and 2001.
Up to the year 2004, Finland has achieved six silver and 15 bronze medals at international World Championship level. At this year’s (2004) World Championships in Sweden, Finland surprised everyone by winning the gold medal for the first time. Finland defeated Russia in the semi-finals and beat Sweden in the finals with a score of 5-4. The Finnish stars were Ari Holopainen in the game against Russia (7 goals), and in the finals, goalkeeper Timo Oksanen and Sami Laakkonen, who scored the decisive World Championship goal in overtime. With his 61 goals, Ari Holopainen heads the all-time goal scoring statistics of the World Championships.
Top Finnish players in the 1940s include Sakari ”Saku” Salo and Erik ”Asken” Åberg; in the 1950s, Kullervo Muurinen, Kauko Korpela, Tauno Timoska and Alpo Aho; in the 1960s, Pentti Jokinen, Pauli Heiskanen, Lars Näsman, Kalevi Pirkola, Esko Holopainen, Pauli Auvinen and Urho Partanen; in the 1970s and 1980s, Veikko Niemikorpi, Jarmo Haavisto, Matti Alatalo, Timo Okkonen, Timo Serenius, Leo Segerman, Esko Tammilehto and Jukka Ohtonen; and in the 1990s, Ari Holopainen, Samuli Niskanen, Sami Laakkonen and Pasi Inoranta.
The most successful national team coach in the 1960s was Reino ”Timpe” Arvola; in the 1980s and 1990s, Seppo Jolkkonen; and in the 2000s, Esko Tammilehto, who led Finland to its first ever World Championship victory in 2004. Club coach Reijo Karppinen has been successful at the international level, leading the OLS to win the World Cup in 1976 (Dex Cup) and the silver medal at the European Cup in 1977.