What is so enchanting about the matches in the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro? Or about wading thigh-deep in the Vuorisuo bog in Hyrynsalmi Finland that serves as a soccer field? There is no simple answer, but perhaps swamp soccer triggers some primitive need to get excited, have fun, or just dive into the mud.
The 15th Swamp Soccer World Championships take place at the legendary Vuorisuo bog in Ukkohalla, Hyrynsalmi between 18 and 19 July. The competition continues to attract interest, and this year the organisers are expecting 250 teams comprising nearly 5,000 players and more than 10,000 spectators from some 10 different countries.
The 2014 Swamp Soccer World Championships are the complete opposite of the ongoing World Cup. The construction of the new football stadiums in Brazil cost billions of euros, whereas the Hyrynsalmi matches take place in mostly natural muddy bogs. Both events provide their share of fun and recreation, but Hyrynsalmi is sure to offer more mud.
− I think people find the sport very interesting because swamp soccer is an exceptional experience that is a complete getaway from everyday life. Wading thigh-deep in the bog is fun, but the matches are also seriously about competing. This crazy and fun experience is what the sport is about. It is mostly about having fun, but the competitive instinct is really present from the semi-finals onwards and the teams have a strong will to win, says Kimmo Kyhälä, a representative of the Swamp Soccer World Championships organisation.
Nokian Tyres has been the title sponsor of the Swamp Soccer World Championships for several years. But what does the company have in common with the sport?
− Swamp soccer and developing tyres for the demanding Northern conditions both require perfect management of extreme conditions, seamless teamwork, passion, and dedication. Furthermore, swamp soccer is fun like our products that enable safe and comfortable driving, says Antti-Jussi Tähtinen, Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Nokian Tyres.
The two-day event comprises 700–800 matches on twenty 35 x 60 metre bog fields with various densities. There are six series in the competition, and one team has a goalie and five other players.
The rules are similar to ordinary soccer, but the main differences are the smaller field and the shorter matches.
The match duration is 2 x 10 minutes, but you only need 30 seconds in the bog to breathe heavily and feel the fatigue. According to Kyhälä, the sport requires good physical condition and dedication.
− There is no group of people that the game is specifically made for, but having long legs like a moose is definitely an advantage when you are deep in the bog. Being a soccer player does not necessarily mean good performance in the bog, but of course it helps. Often, people who just try the sport once become regulars and participate in the competitions year after year, Kyhälä adds.
In the 2013 Swamp Soccer World Championships, all six series were won by Finnish teams. This year's competition includes teams from Germany, Russia, Sweden, and Iceland, among others. The sport has become so popular in Iceland that the annual competition is the largest summer event in the country. Swamp soccer enthusiasts can even be found in India.
Watch the video “Swamp Soccer World Championships by Nokian Tyres”: http://youtu.be/NRHagzE57Zc
Nokian Tyres plcAntti-Jussi Tähtinen, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, tel. +358 10 401 7940antti-jussi.tahtinen(at)nokiantyres.com
The 2014 Swamp Soccer World ChampionshipsKimmo Kyhälä, tel. +358 400 689 979kimmo.kyhala(at)gmail.com
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