Towards happier sports stories
I was in primary school when I got to watch a youth dance group’s practise session. My big sisters were in the group, and I had probably got in to watch the session through them. I remember following the choreography of the older dancers and trying to copy their movements. I wanted to learn to dance just like them. At 11 years of age, I started dancing alongside gymnastics, and this journey still continues.
I have continued to dance actively for almost ten years and do sports in general almost all my life. I am grateful to my parents who encouraged me to start gymnastics as a child. Without that, I do not think I would be here right now – sports has made me what I am now, providing me with important tools for self-expression, maintaining my own wellbeing and stress management, for instance. Above all, I have had a safe environment in which I have been able to practise sports.
My sports story is a fairly happy one. The unfortunate truth, however, is that many cannot say the same. Many cannot afford sports as a hobby, many do not have a safe environment in which to practise sports, and many do not feel welcome in sports. According to research, higher education students do less physical activity than they should for their health. This may be due to the things listed above as well as trauma from physical education, the inaccessibility of sports as a hobby and the focus on performance and competition that is often connected to sports. For people who have been left with a sour taste by sports before, it would be crucially important that there is a low threshold for starting it from scratch or getting back to it after a break.
OLL must continue to advocate sports and active everyday life to ensure that all higher education students have the opportunity to practise physical activity and gain experiences of joy and success through it. These goals can be achieved by developing advocacy work and emphasising equal opportunities for all students to do physical activity. The federation’s most important duty is to encourage regular students towards physical activity and to support local operators in order to promote accessibility in sports services.
Let’s move towards happier sports stories together – not because of the representativeness of the narrative but because of student wellbeing.
Good leaders practise what they preach
What makes a good leader? This question does not have a clear-cut answer. The definition of a good leader depends on the views and demands of society, the people being led and the leader.
Lujasti lempeä (2016) is a self-help book written by psychotherapist Maaret Kallio. In my opinion, its name, which can be translated into English as ‘firm but gentle’, is an excellent description of a good leader. A good leader knows how to verbalise what they want and carries the setbacks they face on their shoulders but also has the ability to interact with people in diverse situations. Such a leader does not see individuals merely as people to lead but as whole human beings with their own worries and emotions. This makes emotional skills key. A good leader sets clear boundaries and objectives to give everyone the opportunity to learn and develop themselves as a member of the group.
What kind of leader would I be for OLL? Firm but gentle, of course! I know how to delegate matters and share responsibility with others as well as take it myself. I would especially like to lead by example. For me, the most credible leadership style is one in which the leader practises what they preach. If the leader encourages others to rest, for instance, their message becomes genuinely believable if they take care of their own coping, too.
If there is something I would still like to learn about leadership, it is setting boundaries for both myself and others. Shared projects must be seen to as agreed, but nothing is more important than functional group dynamics and looking after your wellbeing. OLL needs a conscientious and moving leader – and that is what it would get with me.