Pyhäjoki & Neighbourhood

Kati Ukonsaari, the chairperson of Joki-Kiekko, has promoted ice hockey in Pyhäjoki already for twenty years. Photo by Timo Heikkala

Ice hockey gets young people to exercise in Pyhäjoki

Ice hockey team Pyhäjoen Joki-Kiekko has an important role in increasing vitality of the municipality.

Ice hockey remains popular in Pyhäjoki year after year. The local ice arena was built in 2002, and it has become important in the hearts of local amateur hockey players and amateur players from the neighboring municipalities. The ice arena is also the home of Pyhäjoen Joki-Kiekko’s G and F junior teams.

Kati Ukonsaari, the chairperson of Joki-Kiekko, knows well how important ice hockey is in Northern Ostrobothnia.

“There are not many children here, and thus not many new amateur hockey players, but there is plenty of enthusiasm.”

Ukonsaari was one of the founders of the ice hockey team in 1994. Nowadays, the team has around 50 junior players, both male and female. 

Onward together

Joki-Kiekko cooperates with Fennovoima. In the spring of 2017, the ice arena’s lighting system was renovated with sponsorship funds provided by the company. New insulation was added the same summer. Rosatom and the municipality of Pyhäjoki assisted in their acquisition.

“It was a huge effort, particularly for the parents of our juniors,” Ukonsaari says about the renovation project that took a couple of weeks to complete.

There is plenty of enthusiasm.”

The lighting renovation provided the amateur hockey players with a remotely controlled and adjustable lighting system that covers the entire arena. It has been praised a lot.

“Now you can switch on the maintenance lights or game lights, and you don’t have to wait 15 minutes after having switched the lights off to be able to switch them back on. It was a major renovation and a major improvement.”

Important environmental actions

Fennovoima and the amateur hockey players both want to do good for the environment. The new lighting system clearly improved the arena’s energy efficiency.

Small everyday deeds are also needed – and are being done, Ukonsaari confirms.

“We recycle cardboard, paper, and bottles,” she says.

There are about 50 juniors playing in the ice hockey team of Pyhäjoen Joki-Kiekko.

Sporty girl won

Ukonsaari ended up establishing the ice hockey team because her little brother was an amateur hockey player. Her more than twenty years volunteering for the benefit of ice hockey was acknowledged last summer when she received the honorary title of Pauha-Maija from the Pyhäjoki education and culture committee. Ukonsaari has also volunteered for the Finnish Red Cross.

Every year, a cultural figure or a person who promotes the region by means of active volunteer work in the municipality is named Pauha-Maija or Pauha-Matti.

“It does make you a little sentimental when you, a long-term sports enthusiast, are acknowledged as a cultural figure,” Ukonsaari admits.

Unofficial recruitment announcement

Ukonsaari is still interested in ice hockey, and the enthusiasm has spread within the family: first her brother took up the hobby, and then her son played as well.

Someone else needs to grab the gavel soon, however, because Ukonsaari’s post as the head of the team is reaching its end.

“I will step down in the spring of 2020,” she confirms – and encourages anyone interested in the post to at least consider applying. Ukonsaari says that the ice hockey team is the embodiment of many of the things that are good and worth retaining in a small municipality.

“We do things together, helping each other out – and everybody knows each other. These are major strengths.”

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