Concentrating coaching operations in competence clusters is characteristic to the Finnish elite athlete system. A motto that best describes the operation is: “The best among the best, coached by the best.”
The elite athlete unit of the Finnish Olympic Committee has chosen six national coaching centres and focus academies as their key operational environments. These six ‘home bases’ of Finnish elite sports are Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Vuokatti, Kuortane and Jyväskylä Sport Academy.
Usually, coaching is provided by sport associations and education by educational institutes. The Sports Academy system is a link between these two operators. The different fields of sports that have centralised their operations in Jyväskylä are swimming, basketball, gymnastics, football/futsal, track and field, floorball, orienteering, freestyle skiing and cross-country skiing.
Jyväskylä enables excellent coaching processes for athletes of different fields. EduFutura, on the other hand, offers a wide range of study paths of different kinds. The basic idea of Sport Path is to smoothly combine an athlete’s and a student’s paths. This does not mean that athletes are granted any bypass lanes or exemptions, but rather they are provided with several support measures and special arrangements for their studies.
"The best among the best, coached by the best."
Jyväskylä offers great solutions for combining athletic training and studies
The Finnish Olympic Committee elected Kilpinen upper stage comprehensive school as the Finnish Sport Institute of the Year in 2012. The sports class at Kilpinen school has been a trailblazer and a pioneer of the Finnish system of sports-oriented upper stage comprehensive schools.
This year, the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences received an honorary mention from the Finnish Olympic Committee for their positive attitude towards athletes’ parallel careers (studies + professional athletics) by providing the athletes with personal study plans and customising flexible methods for completing studies. Another factor mentioned in the grounds of the honorary mention was that JAMK has designed a Sport Academy Study unit worth 15 study credits, the purpose of which is to combine the know-how learned through both studies and an athlete’s career and to refine the student athlete’s competence into a total package that best serves their future.
In addition to these, Jyväskylä offers great practices from the perspective of sports, both in secondary stage studies and in the university. This means that all the prerequisites are in place, but work still needs to be done to make these great solutions and practices into an integrated service package.
EduFutura’s Sport Path is the glue that attaches the various practices of different educational institutes and educational levels, forming a smooth path for athletes through their studies. In practice, this means smooth transitions between different levels of education, cross-institutional study opportunities and verification and recognition of studies.
Doctor of Sports Science Sami Kalaja started his work in the role of Professor of Practice of Sports in February 2019.
At EduFutura, Kalaja’s special focus has been the building of the EduFutura Sport Path together with the City of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä Sports Academy and EduFutura institutes.