The voice of the athletes will be strengthened through national and international networks

The Football Players Association (JPY) is involved in a national network that brings together athletes representatives and it strives to strengthen athletes involvement in sports decision-making. In the distance held round table discussions convened by JPY were heard representatives of different sports and institutions. The common thought was clear: the voice of the athletes must be heard genuinely and strongly in sports decision-making.

Representatives of the other team sports that were seen and heard in the network were Jarmo Saarela, Executive Director of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association (SJRY) and President of the Finnish Top Athletes Union (SHU), Jari Toivonen, coordinator of the basketball alumni network, and Kaius Peltonen, a former volleyball player specializing in players employment status.

Also present was Emma Terho, a longtime captain of the national icehockey team and an athlete member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a member of the Athletes Committee, who said that the initiative to establish the network is profitable.

- It would be great if Finland can act as a pioneer that manages to actively bring together the representatives that are representing athletes to the same table, and in this way we together succeed in promoting the voice of the athletes in sports decision-making and sparring with each other.

As a representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Satu Heikkinen was heard at the event. Additionally, Antti Aine, Chairman of the Advisory Board for Ethical Issues in Sports, and Olli-Pekka Karjalainen, Chairman of the Center for Competition and Excellence Research (KIHU) and Athlete Member of the Board of the Olympic Committee, took part in the network meeting.

The national network is strongly linked to the EU-project of Strengthening Athletes Power in Sports (SAPIS), in which JPY will be part of in 2020-2022. The SAPIS project aims to promote the involvement and voice of the athletes heard in sports decision-making and it is lead by the Danish organization Play the Game. JPY's representative in the SAPIS project is experienced sports influencer Harri Syväsalmi.

- Influencing in the networks is an important part of our strategy. We strongly believe in cooperation between different actors and through this we can also work together on a broad front to promote the position of the athletes as employees and our #footballasaprofession vision. The aim is to keep the network's activities open, and we hope to involve more athletes from the other sports in the future, says Markus Juhola, Executive Director of JPY.

- At the group's first meeting, we recognized that there is a clear need in Finland to explain a little more about the role of the athletes and the bodies representing athletes in Finnish sports decision-making in general, explains JPY's liaison manager Panu Autio the first steps of the network.