Player from Helsingfors IFK: "The tournaments aren’t this big in Finland" - Partille Cup
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Player from Helsingfors IFK: "The tournaments aren’t this big in Finland"

In Finland there are eleven teams in their age group. But now, the Finnish team Helsingfors IFK plays in group 17, in a group of six teams. A huge change of perspective – to say the least.

There are few handball teams in Finland. A huge difference from the world’s largest handball tournament for youths – Partille Cup.
– We might just be eleven teams in our age group – in all of Finland, says Belinda Ax that plays for Helsingfors IFK’s G15-team.

The handball culture isn’t that great in Finland – in matter of fact, it’s quite small. In the G15-class back in Finland there are only eleven teams, according to Belinda Ax that plays for Helsingfors IFK.
To head over to the worlds largest youth tournament in Gothenburg is, in that sense, a huge change from what she’s used to in the Finnish capital.
– The tournaments aren’t this big in Finland. There’s a much larger handball culture here in Sweden, she says.

Ax mentions that it’s mostly the Swedish-speaking part of the population that plays handball, such as her. And that’s a population that only counts for about five per cent of the whole population in Finland.
And with regards to that, to come and play against new players, from new countries with other ways of playing handball is something she sees as a great challenge.
– The level here is much harder than what it’s back home. 

During the Wednesday, Helsingfors IFK played against a Swedish team, Ystads IF. Ystads IF won their first match while Helsingfors IFK lost theirs.
The match was even up until the end. After two great keeper-performances and two solid defences the game ended with remarkably few goals. In the end the score board said 7–6 – to Helsingfors IFK.
– The best part is still to play matches. It’s fun to play and that’s also why we came here – to play handball, says Linda Juvala in the same team.

They’re both open with that they appreciate the tournament, even outside of Heden and Kviberg.
– I think it’s fun to play handball outdoors, especially when it’s good weather. But it’s also fun to explore the city, says Ax.

They’ve also been following the Finnish national team in the European Open Championship.
- We’ve been there and watched some matches, due to Finland being in the tournament. We follow them. Now they’ve lost games but I hope it goes well for them, says Juvala.

So, what was your goal entering the tournament?
It was to win a match, says Juvala.

 But now you’ve won, so what’s your next goal?
To win our next match!

Belinda Ax is to the left in the image, Linda Juvala is to the right.

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