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Sporty weekend with a touch of beach soccer

Blogs | Friday 11.10.2019

Beachfutis Finnish Open is an annual beach soccer tournament played at the famous Kalajoki beach. The event spreads over the entire sandy beach area and brings together as many as two thousand football players. The tournament has been organised since 2000, and is the largest and longest-running tournament of its kind in Finland.
The travel blogger Jesse Paunonen participated in the tournament in the summer of 2019 and wrote about his experiences in Kalajoki.

Kalajoki’s sand dunes: Hiekkasärkät, June 2019. (©) Jesse Paunonen

It’s a warm Friday morning in June, and each of our team mates knows what time of the year it is! It’s time to head over to the sandy dunes of Kalajoki for a fun weekend playing soccer. Our team, FC Sikaosasto, is composed of 13 players, three women, and ten men. We always take part in the “for fun” series, where the teams are mixed and winning is not taken too seriously.
Our main goal is to spend time together, and we know that the Beachfutis event will offer the possibility to create great memories together!

One my way from Helsinki to Kalajoki, I am thinking about the upcoming weekend: this time will be quite special as I will get to be the ambassador for Visit Kalajoki, providing reports on the Beachfutis event and sharing my experiences at the resort from the viewpoint of a professional in the field of tourism.

This is my experience of the Beachfutis event, enjoying the Sand Dunes with my friends! Welcome to join us our adventure!

 

 

Kalajoki’s sand dunes: Hiekkasärkät, June 2019. (©) Jesse Paunonen

Discovering Kalajoki 

Our team is pretty young and composed of colors of individuals. We reached our accommodation at different times throughout the day on Friday. As usual, we had rented a couple of cottages from Kalajoki Booking Center to accommodate our whole team. Both cottages were a positive surprise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our rented cottage at the Hiekkasärkät resort. (©) Jesse Paunonen

The wooden cottages were pretty new and had nice new appliances. The glassed patio and spacious living spaces were precisely what we had been expecting and hoping for! The setting in Kalajoki was perfect to celebrate the beginning of the summer season, and hopefully our team’s success story.

The game is on! 

As the day turns into evening, our minds start to focus on the upcoming matches. We happily put on our game gear, warming up to some rock beats. It’s a short walk from our cottage to the sand dunes, we enjoy the trip admiring the scenery around us.
The first match is set to begin at 6 PM; it feels quite late for us all after a day at the office and the trip to Kalajoki: we can feel the weight of the day in our bodies. We had high expectations but faced a bitter disappointment in this first match, losing 1-3 to FC Company. We gave ourselves the grade 8/10 for trying our best!
However, that loss was not left to mourn for a long time, but we set out to get extra momentum for our cottage. A cold drink and sweat flowed as we eagerly awaited the last game of the evening, after which we were able to break away from the beach football for the rest of the evening. We returned to our cottage to recharge our batteries, not letting the disappointed let us down. We still had one important match ahead of us that same evening! And after that, it would time to celebrate!
By 8 PM we realized that we had just about half an hour to go before the next match, time was flying! Our daily lives are so busy nowadays with work and school that we do not get to meet that often, so when we do get together, we are not able to focus on time anymore.
The last match of the evening turned out to be actual showtime for our team, FC Sikaosasto. We simply owned the field and were able to prove ourselves. We turned our opponent NSP ‘s mistakes into our little victories. When the referee blew the end of the match, the scoreboard indicated a clear win with 5-1 for us. Our next game would be the next morning at 10:30 AM, we decided we’d enjoy the evening, return to our cottage to heat the sauna and make the best of our time at the Kalajoki Hiekkasärkät resort.

LSaturday, a.k.a D-day gameday! 

We were not in our best shape on Saturday morning, and it might have been the turning point of the trip! Our players were still tired from the previous night’s celebrations when we tried to get going to our first match of the day. As the team captain, I had to take control of the situation with a couple of football fanatics to ensure that the team’s spirit would stay up, despite my feeling hazy from the previous night also… We wanted to bring back faith into our team, reminding them that our success depended only on ourselves.

Our team from top left to the right: Timi, Amir, Jani, Anne, Vladimir, Milena, Vitali & Joonas. Middle left to right, Heimo, Maarit & Teemu. In front, Jesse ja Valtteri

The warm sea breeze and the joyful mood on the beach remind us again why we fell in love in Kalajoki in the first place. The lengthy sandy beach reminds us of beaches in southern Europe, but here we are in Finland!

Saturday morning’s first match was nothing short of a miracle, we managed to wake up and focus, allowing us to take the lead and win against FC Pandas 3-1; an important victory has given us a boost for the upcoming matches. Some of our players had been too tired to play and were pleasantly surprised by our victory, as they expected us to lose (and surely looked already forwards to enjoying themselves at the beach and making the most of the temptations available at the Hiekkasärkät resort).
Funny enough, our team spirit remained strong even though we did not believe in our chances. Playing on the sand isn’t easy!

Playoffs begin, our Cinderella story 

We were pretty nervous about the upcoming playoffs: we knew that we had what it would take to reach the finals, as we trusted our combo of defense, attack, and offensive play had reached such a good level comparing to the previous level. Our team was stocked and confident, we felt like we were so close to reaching the finals!

We made it to the best 16 teams standing. We played next against a very colorful and loud team called Lady Spartak, which traveled from the eastern town of Kajaani. The team included skilled players, their female players outshined their male counterparts. We were still able to secure a win 4-1 from this match, making us one of the best 8 teams in the tournament, as the previous year. This year-round we had the feeling we could go even further than before, as we had never played so well against such a good team as Lady Spartak.

With luck and skills on our side, we managed to tackle a win from FC Parsaa. For the first time in our team’s history, we were fighting for a medal at the Kalajoki Beachfutis tournament! Our team had been enrolled in each tournament for the last 10 years, meaning this felt special for us all. It felt incredible! We surpassed ourselves and we ready to fight for a medal!

 

The sun sets on Kalajoki.

The semifinals eventually turned out to be our final and ultimate hurdle, I injured my ankle right during the first minutes and to head over to the first aid station to assess my situation. This sudden incident affected my teammates and we somehow lost the moment. Our team tried its best but eventually lost to FC Emppu 8.2. We moved on to compete for the bronze medal, which also sadly lost 10-2 against FC Villivarsot.

We did not let the disappointment due to the last matches affect the atmosphere, we focused next on enjoy the summer celebrations, making the most of the stunning seafront terrace at the entertainment center. Most of the team headed back to the cottage to start preparing for the evening’s party. My friend Teemu and I went first to relax at the SaniFani spa.

Kalajoki’s amazing selection of activities

SaniFani Spa

Once we were done with playing football, it was time to focus on enjoying Kalajoki’s broad selection of activities. The SaniFani spa is located right in the heart of the Hiekkasärkät resort, and we noticed many other players are also heading to the spa and pools for some well-deserved relaxation. SaniFani is suitable for all really, families and friends. There are pools, hot tubs, slides, and saunas for use.

You have space to enjoy here! (©) Jesse Paunonen

 

Let the bubble help you relax! (©) Jesse Paunonen

Adventure Park Pakka

We had a fantastic part on our last evening in Kalajoki, we headed out to try some brand new activity to wake up completely. Adventure Park Pakka offers a wide range of activities for the whole family, groups of friends and adventurers of all sizes and age. We went to try out what they had on offer together with their adventure manager Tuomo Priuska.

The board lists all the activities available at Pakka.

Through the airs

Pakka’s Xtower allows you to test your limits with their free fall and the zipline.
We tested the zipline, and it felt amazing to slide through the airs above the dunes! The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling and the dunes below us. It doesn’t last long but the experience leaves a strong trace in you. Don’t worry, the staff is here to guide you, so put on the gear and let them help you test your limits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After -zipline mood: feeling good!

 

We ended our trip to Kalajoki with a freefall from the tower. We might have felt a little stress at the beginning, but what a feeling once we jumped! We won our fears over! There would have been so much more to at the park, but we were running out of time. I really look forwards to experiencing these moments again. Thank you for reading my thoughts and experience, I hope I was able to explain why Kalajoki is worth a visit!
Enjoy your summer!

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Jesse Paunonen

I am Jesse Paunonen, alias Matkailunhidalgo, and I am a 26-year-old student from Helsinki, passionate about travels, sports, and experiences. I enjoy traveling more than anything: travel is more than just relaxing by the beach or visiting monuments, its all about the experiences. I am at becoming an ambassador for tourism in Finland, with a focus on ethics and respect.