Many may still remember Timo Tuomi, a crisp and colorful hockey coach. At the turn of the millennium, Tuomi coached Luko for two seasons and two Blues - and in the meantime piloted Finland's under-18s to the World Cup gold in the spring of 2000.
When the other coaches wore walking shoes with straight pants, Tuomi stepped spectacularly on the Boots in the exchange box. In addition, Tuomi sang and played bass already during his league coaching in a rock band.
After washing in the Blues ended in kicks at the end of September 2001, Tuomi took over the Japanese national team for coaching the following season. The project culminated in the spring of 2003 at the World Championships in Finland, which Japan reached in the Asian quota place.
Of the six World Cup matches, Japan did not win the first, but still stretched to a 3–3 draw with Slovenia, one of the few points in the country's World Cup history in the A-Series.
After that, Tuomi coached in Finland for another three years, two of them at the Forssa Ball Club in Mestis and one at Ilves' A-youth.
Since the spring of 2007, Tuomi has not coached in Finland. And hasn’t been in the big public for over 10 years.
What does he have now?
Timo Tuomi has been coaching Spanish junior national teams for ten years. Pictured is Tuomi sitting in the front row in the middle of a team photo of under-20s in Spain. Spain, coached by Tuomi, finished fifth in the Division II Group A World Championships in Lithuania in January and maintained its league position in line with targets.
Photo: Timo Tuomen's home album
Tuomi has not left hockey during all these years. For almost 10 years, Tuomi has worked for Spanish junior national teams, as assistant and head coaches for national teams under the age of 18 and 20.
In between, Tuomi has been a junior consultant and A-junior and academy coach for the Swedish club Mora, sometimes again in his home region of Forssa, leading educational lectures and being a project manager at the Forsso Cultural Center.
For the past couple of years, he has also been employed by the Hungarian Hockey Association as a mental coach and consultant for junior national teams. Tuomi also runs the MAC Ujbuda Hockey Academy in Budapest.
- Quite a lot and places of all kinds have been seen. If there is nothing to try in life, the four walls of the home will suddenly become quite cramped, Tuomi, who turned 60 in January, said by phone from his home in Jokioinen.
- I've seen it at least that is played in every corner and urheillaan. On the one hand, the focus is on top hockey, on the other hand, on making the sport known, and on the other hand, only the very first steps are taken.
The summer camp stretched to 10 years
The judgment ended in Spain with the help of Frank Gonzalez, president of the Spanish Hockey Federation and vice-president of the International Hockey Federation IIHF. Tuomi had gotten to know Gonzalez after being a trainer for the International Hockey Federation.
- The first contact was when Frank asked if I was going to see their summer camp. There was no talk of coaching. I left open-minded to see what the mood was like in Spain, as I had already seen a few individuals from Mongolia or Mexico with hockey, Tuomi growls.
Watching the summer camp finally progressed to the point where Tuomi was asked how it would be if there would be interest ...
- Then it left. I liked that there were little expectations or global goals. In Spain, the legs were in the country quite completely. It was such a “everything that comes is a Plus” spirit, Tuomi describes.
Timo Tuomi coached the Japanese national team at the World Championships held in Finland in the spring of 2003.
Photo: Kari Kuukka
It is now almost ten years since the first summer camp, and Tuomi is still at the helm of youth national teams. During that time, Tuomi has also been paving the way for the Spanish adult national team.
- The group is great. When you see that the thing is slowly moving forward, it acts a bit like interactive, i.e. it feeds in one direction and another.
- However, the level differences within the team are quite amazing! I have often said that nearly every country can be found in every age group of five players who could play in Finland, the top level. So in Spain, the top guys were really good, but after that the drop was big. When the third or fourth field went to the ice, the idea was mainly to do what you can and try to stay upright, Tuomi laughs.
The Spanish junior national teams have played mainly in Group B of the second division of the World Championships, thus at the fifth highest level in the world, ranking around 30.
Hockey statue at a roundabout
Tuomi says it is well known in Spain that hockey always remains a small species in the country. Hockey will never become a great success like football, basketball, handball or volleyball.
Yet the country’s small disc community is very proud of its own sport.
- Those who enjoy hockey have a certain pride in their job. If you ask them why you don’t play football, you get the answer that “of course not, hockey is much more interesting”. Even though football obeys them when they throw a football to warm them up, Tuomi describes.
The heart of Spanish hockey is concentrated in the northern part of the country near the French border. That's where most of the clubs come from: Puigcerda, Jaca, Txuri Urdin ...
- They are small places, just small towns. Everywhere football is the number one sport, but when you come to Puigcerda, for example, you encounter a big hockey statue. On the other hand, I don't know of any Finnish city with a large hockey player statue made of steel at the entrance.
Timo Tuomi coached the Blues from autumn 2000 to the end of September 2001.
Photo: Seppo Solmela / IS
Tuomi is not in Spain all the time, mainly only during the preparation camp to be held in June, September and before the World Cup, and to handle the national team selection events.
However, that is not a problem. The assistant coach working as a firefighter is on site as a pair of eyes and the other assistant coach is second.
- The number from which 18- and 20-year-old national teams are selected is minimal compared to Finland, for example. Hockey is not such a big sport in Spain that hundreds of players have to be watched. We invite about 50 players to the summer and autumn camp so that as many people as possible get a feel for the national team rush. That amount has been quite good.
In addition to Spain, working in Hungary also came through acquaintances.
- Everything has always happened in such a way that I have not had a goal or aspired to do anything. It's just come to ask if you're interested. When you have traveled here and there, somewhere you always come across like-minded people and create friendships. That's how Hungary came.
"Am I really 60!"
This spring, Tuomi would still have had the Division II World Championships for under-18s in China. They were canceled due to a coronavirus pandemic.
- For understandable reasons, the players' parents were already starting to wonder if the boys were really leaving for China. Well, in the end they weren't, Tuomi said.
What about music? Has it survived along the way in the world as well?
- Yes, it has always remained a beloved hobby. I like to watch and every now and then I get to play.
Tuomi is a singing bassist in a rock and rhythm and blues-spirited band that performs regularly on an irregular basis.
- We have the Eagles set and then the Eric Clapton set. Then we play them.
- I really wonder if I've already turned 60! After all, we’re all eternal little boys, and I personally feel like a childish grin in the corner of my eye. As long as the mind stays fresh, it is able to find something new every day.
Timo Tuomi performed at the Juice Church Concert at Forssa Church in November 2017. Tuomi sang three songs in the concert, two from Eric Clapton and one from Hector. -It was a great concert. The church was full, and some were still outside, Tuomi recalls.
Photo: Tanja Härmä
What is the most memorable achievement of an experienced cosmopolitan?
- I hope one is coming!
- To this day, that World Cup gold under the age of 18 is pretty tough. Over the course of four years, the team was visited by a little over 100 guys, and when you stood after the World Cup final with a gold medal around your neck and saw how much the players enjoyed, then it’s something unforgettable.
- The greatest thing in club teams has been when everyone has been blown into the same coal. When, for example, in FPS, the A-junnis finally rose to the Junior Finnish Championships after many years and the team, for example, Antti Laaksonen still had a good international career, then they are the kind of things that he remembers!
In hockey in Spain and Hungary, expectations are more moderate.
- There are some very talented players in Hungary. I would like to see a few of them really set out to strive for international excellence. At the team level, I would like to see you start playing for a win instead of looking for a small and moderate loss.
- I dare not say anything about Spain. Hockey is so much below football, basketball, handball and volleyball. The number of enthusiasts is very minimal and the training conditions are modest, that the level of Division II is currently at its maximum.
To Finland in a pinch of time
The topic of the spring's ongoing talk - the global coronavirus pandemic - also affected Tuomo's life. The work in Budapest ended abruptly, and Tuomi returned to Finland just before the borders across Europe were closed.
- Hungary also had a ban on gathering more than five people, which means that it was not possible to practice in that situation. They said directly that “go away, your family in Finland needs you more than we do here,” Tuomi grinned.
Tuomi got to Finland almost last time - and a little luckily through the bend.
- Direct flights from Budapest to Helsinki were already finito. It was starting to get a little nervous that nowhere would get anywhere. MAC Ujbuda, one of the academy’s coaches, had been in the travel agency industry, and he then said I wonder if a trip would be arranged for me.
It became quite a trip. Tuomi first flew from Budapest to Skavsta Airport 100 kilometers south of Stockholm, continued by bus to Stockholm, from there by bus to Arlanda Airport until he finally got to fly to Helsinki.
The music was close to Timo Tuome already during his league coaching times. In the picture, Tuomi tests the bass in a music store in Rauma in January 1998.
Photo: Antti Johansson
It was still the time when Helsinki-Vantaa did not have to fill in a health survey and was allowed to leave freely by public transport.
- yes from me asked where I'm coming. When I said that the starting point was Budapest, they just acknowledged that the matter was clear. Even a two-week home quarantine was still only a strong recommendation at that point, not an absolute must.
- I didn't feel at all scared in Budapest. I was more worried about whether everything is very close in Finland. I lived in Budapest in an area without congestion and I didn’t spin in crowds.
- I didn't go to the big supermarkets, only to the local store, and I was mostly at my apartment, ice rink or office anyway. There was no one in the vicinity who had any symptoms, so I myself did not experience a feeling that could be terrible!
- The seriousness of the situation only began to take shape when people started wearing Zorro masks.