Once a year almost 4000 players playing in 300 different teams come to Northern Finland, Hyrynsalmi, to play football in a swamp. Yes, you read right. In a swamp. And they do it because they want to win the World Championships of this strange sport.
Every summer the huge swamp area called Vuorisuo becomes home to a very unusual sports event: swamp soccer. This crazy event started 17 years ago in 2000, and by this day it has collected players from 10 different countries. Swamp Soccer World Championship tournament includes four different series: women’s, men’s, mixed and business. This sports event fits everyone, who is a little bit crazy, truly open-minded and looking for unforgettable experiences. Swamp Soccer in Hyrynsalmi is suitable for everyone: for a group of friends, sport clubs, football teams and companies. Finns are known for inventing other crazy sports and events as well – like Wife Carrying World Championships, Air Guitar World Championships and The World Championships of Berry Picking. So in my opinion, swamp soccer is not even the weirdest championship tournament one can imagine!
Swamp soccer must be funny because the event collects thousands of people together. At least it is a lot of fun to watch: people wading, crawling and trying to make formations in order to make goals in deep, dark brown mud. You can also sense the wonderful teamspirit around the playing fields when team players encourage each others. And when a player makes a goal, the whole team jumps into the mud, gives hugs and shouts out of joy. This event is like a big carnival in the swamp area. Happy music sounds, people dancing, laughing and having fun. And no Finnish event without a sauna! After the day’s games have been played, the muddy players jump into a pond to clean off the mud, and then warm up in sauna. Smoke rises on the outside and you can hear the great atmosphere inside.
If you want’t to try something different and a little bit strange, I recommend this event a lot! One of the pro’s is the aren’t also any mosquitos. So start gathering your group of players and see you in Vuorisuo next July!
This post was written by Kirsi, who has participated to swamp soccer for seven years. She is the little sister of Rimma and a friend of Laura’s. You can find her amazing nature photography on Instagram by name @ronitherocksausage.