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Dutch referees make their debut in the Salibandyliiga


In the weekend of January 30/31, Eelco Hoogwout and Johan Kruseman have made their debut in the Finnish Salibandyliiga (highest league). Their debut could not be more challenging with a start of SSV versus Kovee, teams which were ranked #1 and #2 by then. Below a report of their weekend by Johan.

Last year Joost Schram visited the yearly Finnish referee course on behalf of the NeFUB referee committee. Finland each year invites referee committees of different countries to exchange ideas. And during this weekend, Finland and Netherlands agreed on a referee exchange program. NeFUB would send two persons to referee two games in Finland and Finland would send a referee pair back to referee games in our Dutch league. And here the foundation was set for our first introduction in the Finnish Salibandyliiga, since Eelco and I were the ones nominated to referee the games in Finland.

After our nomination, we got to hear that we would get the games SSV - Kovee and AC Haki - Josba. From that moment on I started to follow these teams here seeing that SSV and Kovee were doing especially well, winning almost every match, resulting in a number one and two position when our weekend started. Also the other game, looked very interesting, since this were the number 8 and 9, fighting for a place in the play-offs (first 8 teams).

So with healthy nerves, Eelco and I took off to Helsinki, where we were received by Sami Rahikainen, an international observer we had met before at the EFC Final rounds in Switzerland. Sami gave us a warm welcome in a very cold Helsinki: snow records since 1960, cars snowed under until the roof and temperatures the week before reaching minus 21. Luckily, the temperatures were now up to a sunny minus 11 at Saturday and even a hot minus 1 at Sunday.

At Saturday our host was Anssi Tuomi, an international referee we had met before also, actually for the first time at our very first international tournament, the school World Championships many years ago. We were shown around Helsinki, seeing the Olympic stadium and city center, visiting the offices of the IFF and Finnish Floorball Federation and ending with a very well prepared lunch by his wife.

After a short rest at our hotel, we were picked up at 15:15 to be in the hall well in time before the game (17:00). After a warming up outside in the snow we were ready and prepared for the game. Different from our debuts in Germany, Denmark and Norway, we started the game without real nerves and were focused from the start of the game.

Second and third period continued and in the last moments of the regular time SSV managed to equalize the game 2-2, meaning a 5 minutes extra time (golden goal). And after 3 minutes in this extra time I had to take one of the most difficult decisions ever: a penalty shot in over time. Well, to be honest, at that moment in time, it was not difficult, but a reflex. Nothing in me was doubting about the call, but when the match is over, you start to think of course since the impact of such a decision is so huge. Still hoping to get some reviews of the situation to evaluate it.

In the hotel we got our feedback by our observer and went to dinner.

The next day we were taken on Helsinki-tour by Sami. Sami showed us walking on the ocean, since the entire Gulf all the way till Estonia was frozen.  And then preparing for our next game, which could become even more challenging because this game could get faster and more physical then our first one. In the sports hall, we were received by the coach of the home team, AC Haki, in the skybox of their arena, overviewing the field. The coach told us that he had watched us the previous game to know what to expect.

This game went pretty well. The captain of the losing team was really nice, saying "you may come back", which was a great compliment for us.

Eelco and I can look back at a very great weekend, where we have made our introduction in the salibandyliiga and have loads of feedback to further improve the coming year. Being back in Netherlands, we saw ourselves in Finnish "Studio Sport" at Finnish national television. The floorball summary (40 seconds) can still be watched at YouTube.

Very much looking forward to our next international trip.

Johan Kruseman



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