LP Vampula is the most talked about sports team in the small town: “They are fighters” | Sport

LP Vampula is the most talked about sports team in

When you drive towards the Huittinen sports center, you will come across a roundabout with two human statues. Another statue has a supporter’s scarf of the volleyball team LP-Vampula wrapped around its neck. It is the most talked about sports team in the city at the moment.

Huittinen is a small town with just under 10,000 inhabitants. LP Vampula’s name comes from the fact that the municipality of Vampula was merged with Huittisi in 2009. This spring, the team has cleared its way to the medal games of the Volleyball Championship for the first time in history.

It is clear that the small-town team is not financially able to compete with the bigger clubs, but this deficiency is compensated by many other aids.

– Yes, we are operating on a small budget, and the same budget includes a league team and a team in the first division. But we do things with high quality and act professionally, explains LP-Vampula’s sports manager Hanna Arve-Talvitie the club’s operating culture.

Kukkonen appreciates the advantages of a small town

The small town makes it possible for all the players of LP-Vampula’s main league team to live within a radius of about one and a half kilometers from their home field. One of them is a passari Lotta Kukkonen22.

– I live a couple of hundred meters from the hall, and there is a shop and lunch places next to it. Everything is close. I appreciate that, says Kukkonen.

The training hall, the weight room and the sports field needed in the summer are all in the same place.

– It makes everyday life really uncomplicated and helps to not have to have a car. Quite a lot of our team travels by bike.

Besides volleyball, Kukkonen is studying law for the third year at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu. He can complete his studies remotely.

– I feel that studies actually provide a pretty good counterbalance to volleyball. As a person, I’m the kind of person that suits me when there’s a lot of everything in everyday life.

Kukkonen is strongly inside volleyball. The fact that a young woman constantly keeps a white volleyball named after her next to her bed tells about it, for example.

A relaxed atmosphere during the exercises

From the beginning of the evening, Kukkonen walks in through the door of his home ground, Tahto Areena. Rehearsals are about to begin.

A few years old, the modern sports hall comes alive when the Vampula women’s volleyball team starts training in the main hall. The music is played and the atmosphere begins to rise towards the high ceiling of the hall.

Before each sport training, there is a mobility and muscle conditioning exercise led by a physical trainer Markku Köykkä.

– We haven’t had any major injuries. Even the girls were surprised at first when we did a lot of movement. But now they have signed that their benefit is enormous, says Köykkä.

After the physics exercise, the balls start to fly over the net and the sound level starts to rise. Vampula’s exercises are a relaxed, happy thing to do, in which everyone is, however, fully involved.

– We have a team full of quite self-critical players, which means that it does not require the coach to be constantly very strict, says Lotta Kukkonen.

The team practices twice a day. The first practices are in the morning at nine and the second in the afternoon at three or four.

– Then you also have time to recover and you can go to bed early. It’s really important that everyday life is high-quality, says sport director Arve-Talvitie.

Some of the players are professionals and some are students.

– All the players are there in the morning and evening training sessions. It has great value for the team. It provides high-quality training and everyone competes for their own playing spot, continues Arve-Talvitie.

Coaches from Serbia, the top volleyball country

Vampula’s Serbian head coach Stefan Paunovic was found with the help of the team’s sports director Hanna Arve-Talvitie’s good European networks.

– Stefan actually came from VaLePa’s old head coach Radova Gacic through, says Arve-Talvitie.

The hiring was preceded by several phone conversations and a meeting in Serbia.

– It requires a lot of work. It doesn’t come down to getting just one referral. You have to know from many different directions what kind of coach he is, continues Arve-Talvitie.

The head coach of LP-Vampula, Paunovic is also the North Macedonia women’s national team coach. Paunovic’s spouse came to Finland with him Tatjana Popovicwho works as LP-Vampula’s assistant coach.

Behind their skills is a strong volleyball culture. The Serbian way is to teach the basic techniques of the sport very thoroughly.

In the next few years, the Serbian women’s national team has won two women’s world championships and two Olympic medals. In the last seven European Championships, Serbia has taken a medal. Three of them are gold. Men are also high on the world list. The country has invested in volleyball.

– In recent years, the Serbian government has invested a lot of money in the teams and the teams are strong. High-level volleyball is played in the league, says head coach Paunovic.

In Serbia, sports and volleyball are treated a little differently than in Finland. It can be seen, for example, in the fact that one of the world’s best-paid female volleyball players, who plays in Turkey Tijana Boskovicjust comes from Serbia.

– In Serbia, sport is a part of life. If you play something, you have to be the best. In Serbia, sport comes first and only then comes everything else. In Finland, studies come first and only then sports, Paunovic reflects on the cultural differences between Finland and Serbia.

Foreigner confirmations

Finnish volleyball teams use a lot of foreign professional players, but finding players who can adapt to Finland is not always easy.

– We are looking for high-quality players with a personality that fits here. It’s really important in team sports that the group is tight and everyone has the same focus, explains sport leader Arve-Talvitie.

LP-Vampula managed to get great reinforcements for this season. American Cheyenne Jones set a new Champions League points record in the regular season with 552 points.

– At first, I didn’t know that there was a point record, and that I was close to it. I’m happy to say I did it, says Jones.

Born in the mountains of Montana in the USA, Jones has enjoyed his time in Finland.

– Honestly, I really didn’t know what to expect when I came to Finland. The season has been everything I expected and much more. I love this team and playing here, laughs a happy Jones.

The runner-up in the point exchange was also a general player playing in LP-Vampula Jovana Biberdzic. He is also the captain of LP-Vampula. Third reinforcement, central defender Kate Brennanis also from the United States and he too has played like a model.

Physical and mental training

LP Vampula has invested in both mental and physical training. Both produce results.

– I am quite sure that the success is due to uncompromising work. Hats off to the club that they have found players that fit our budget, physical coach Köykkä analyzes the success of the small club.

Especially in solving games, all means of recovery are used. Vampula uses ice baths for the players.

– The number one goal is a quick recovery. Since the teams are even, the one who is better on the intermission day wins, says Köykkä.

It’s rare for a women’s volleyball team to have a psychic coach, but Vampula has one.

– This is a pretty intense nine months that we are going on here. Yes, it has definitely helped. I feel that it would be something that should be found in every club, but of course it’s a question of resources, says team passer Lotta Kukkonen.

Psychic coach Pilvi Peltomaa holds a team group meeting a few times a month, where we go over the current state of affairs. If necessary, players can also have personal conversations.

Community spirit

A good team spirit is part of team sports. When it’s high, even a weaker team can achieve feats.

– We have had an incredible team spirit this season, confirms Kukkonen.

– They are fighters. This is the only word I can say. They really give everything on the field, Stefan Paunovic describes the team.

The team has good voice communication throughout the entire organization. The Serbian coach has also been happy.

– During the exercises, there has always been a fairly relaxed atmosphere, which then helps to get good performances, says Kukkonen.

Vampula is currently playing in the Champions League medal games. The first SM medal in history would be a big deal for the small-town club.

Champions League semi-finals

Women’s semi-finals (with 3 wins to the final)

Kuusamo – Puijo Wolley

Kuusamo won the first set of the match 3–2. Second match on Wednesday 27.3. at 6:30 p.m.

LP Kangasala – LP-Vampula

Kangasala won the first match 3–1. Second match on Wednesday 27.3. at 6:30 p.m.

Men’s semi-finals (with 3 wins to the final)

Hurricane – Savo Volley

First meeting 28.3. at 6:30 p.m.

Akaa-Volley – VaLePa

First meeting 28.3. at 6:30 p.m.