Helsinki Cup is set to attract approximately 27,000 participants this year, with the number of girls' teams reaching a record high of over 300. The popularity of football among girls has seen significant growth, fueled by the success of the Finnish national team (Helmareiden) and other role models.
"Football has become a sport for everyone. Girls now have excellent international role models who inspire them.
In Sweden, football is already huge and on the rise, and Finland is following this trend," says Lotta Peitsi, Tournament Director of Helsinki Cup.
Helsinki Cup is the largest international tournament for girls in Finland.
"In the past ten years, the growth of girls' teams in the tournament has been incredible, with the number of participants increasing sevenfold. This year, we have more registered teams than ever before in our 48-year history, totaling 303 teams," Peitsi proudly states.
Helsinki Cup offers three different categories for girls, ranging from elite to recreational levels. There are significant skill variations among the girls, and the tournament provides them with various opportunities to play against international teams.
"Football offers outdoor activities, game intelligence, teamwork, and friendships. The cost of playing football as a hobby is not necessarily as high as in other sports," explains Peitsi, shedding light on the rising popularity of the sport.
Social relationships often emerge as the most significant motivator in surveys.
"I remember how important friends were in my own playing experience. The team spirit, the enthusiasm brought by success, and training together created a great atmosphere. The coaching was good and humane, and everyone aimed to do their best," shares the tournament director, who has played for 20 years.
Emotional development is also part of football.
"Wins and losses are part of life, and in football, emotions run high. When there are moments of success and joy, they remain in your memory for a lifetime. That's what Helsinki Cup aims to create, lasting memories," summarizes Peitsi.
Thousands of Matches on Grass Fields and the Beat of the Tournament Disco
The third day of the junior football tournament kicked off with hundreds of matches. In total, approximately 5,641 matches will be played during the six-day tournament. The matches take place on superb and high-quality natural grass fields in Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa in the Greater Helsinki area. There are 22 field areas and approximately a hundred playing fields. This year, Brahen Field made its return after renovations, and new venues include Tikkurilan Sports Park, Tapanila, and Jätkäsaari fields.
Helsinki Cup is a family event centered around football. Nearly 300,000 attendees, including participants, supporters, parents, team leaders, referees, officials, summer employees, partners, and spectators, are expected to be present.
Today, on Wednesday, in addition to the matches, players will showcase their best moves at the Käpylä Love the Ball Center, where a traditional tournament disco brings junior players together for a music-filled evening. Young fans' favorite artists from the rap scene, Seksikäs Suklaa and Yläkerta, will take the stage. Helsinki Cup will continue until Saturday, July 15, 2023, when the A-finals will be played at the Olympic Stadium.