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Marianna Manninen has already been involved in the activities of Pyhäjoen Wirta for ten years. Today, she instructs other young people in athletics at the club. Photos by Mikko Törmänen

Pyhäjoen Wirta encourages children and adults to engage in athletics

As a hobby, athletics offers fun and goals, both on the track and at the side of the field. Fennovoima is a long-time sponsor of an athletics club based in Pyhäjoki.

A local sports club is often an operator that stimulates the whole community, and Pyhäjoen Wirta is no exception in this respect. Marianna Manninen, 14, started participating in the club’s activities at the age of four, and athletics has been her hobby for years.

“I liked all types of athletics, but long-distance running probably most,” Marianna says. She abandoned the hobby at the age of ten, as she started practicing other sports.

“However, athletics provided me with a solid foundation for all kinds of sport. And the hobby also introduced me to new friends.”

“Especially for new residents, a local sports club offers a great way to get to know the community.”

Next, Jyrki Takala, an organizer of the club, asked whether Marianna would like to become an instructor and guide younger children. This felt like a great idea: Even though her own “active career” was already behind her, she could still spend time with the club she loved and the people she knew.

“Seeing the enthusiasm of the smaller children makes me feel good too,” Marianna says.

Fennovoima sponsors an athletics school

The “crown jewel” of the athletics activities offered to children is an athletics school organized in the summer. Last year, Pyhäjoen Wirta arranged the free athletics school for children born between 2013 and 2015.

The athletics school, which took place in the first week of the summer holiday, was sponsored by Fennovoima, a long-time supporter of the club. The activities of the athletics school were free of charge to the participants, because the company’s financial support covered athletics licenses for everyone.

Jyrki Takala, who is a member of the club’s board, says that the club wants to organize the athletics school this year as well. However, the schedule has yet to be decided, because it is unclear whether the restrictions due to the coronavirus will continue in the summer.

“According to the preliminary plan, we will again arrange the athletics school as soon as the children’s summer holiday begins,” he says.

Marianna Manninen started athletics at the age of four.
“We’ve been able to offer children a very low threshold for entering the world of athletics, because Fennovoima has covered the cost of athletics licenses,” says Jyrki Takala from the Pyhäjoen Wirta sports club.

Getting to know Pyhäjoki in good company

Despite her young age, Marianna Manninen is already quite a veteran member of the club: she has been involved in its activities for ten years. She finds Pyhäjoen Wirta to be a community with a great spirit, in which everyone knows each other and everything is uncomplicated.

“We’re a small group, but we always have fun together,” she says.

Jyrki Takala agrees: the club’s identity and ethos are built on working together and having fun around the favorite sport.

“When you join the club, you quickly get to know all the people, and what we do here,” he says.

Takala is one of the founding members of the club, which is now 14 years old. He says that he moved to Pyhäjoki with his wife some 16 years ago and soon noticed that there weren’t many activities related to athletics in the area.

“Then I noticed an ad in the local paper about the founding meeting of a new sports club and went there to find out what it was all about. I ended up as a member of the board and the secretary of the club straightaway,” Takala says and laughs.

“Before the meeting, I knew hardly anybody in Pyhäjoki, even though I’d already lived here for a couple of years. Now, I know nearly everybody.”

Around a hundred children participating

During the year, up to a hundred children participate in the club’s activities, which also requires the involvement of many adults in the club.

“At a club like this, there are always many little things to do that require a pair of hands,” Takala says.

In the usual scenario, after a child has taken an interest in athletics, the parents are soon drawn into the activities.

“The club’s real asset is its people. Especially for new residents, a local sports club offers a great way to get to know the community,” Takala continues.

Marianna Manninen, an athletics instructor at Pyhäjoen Wirta, and Jyrki Takala, an organizer of the club, both believe that athletics also provides a great foundation for many other sports.