Off to Odense 3: Pasi Aho
11 Aug 2009 at 10:02 | Published by: Hans | Views: 6244 | News search
Pasi Aho, Head Coach of Finland, cheering with Seija Björk in Tampere (Photo by Arto Borg 2008)
Interview with Pasi Aho, Head Coach of Finland,
HB: First of all thank you for letting Minigolfnews interview you.
HB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to those who don’t know you. Who is Pasi Aho?
PA: Just a regular guy from Finland who found his way to the Minigolf course one day and hasn’t left the sport ever since!
Profession: In the minigolf business
Year of birth: 1975
Start of Minigolf career: 1988
Make of club: Stina (greetings to Bo Nordström!)
Favourite ball: Hard to say, there are so many I like…on felt that would be bof GBRO 2005 Jouni Valkjärvi for sure
Favourite surface: Concrete
Technical tip: Keep your head down!
Coaching Tip: Keep you head up, watch and never stop learning!
HB: You have been the Head Coach of Finland only half a year now. Have you ever felt any doubts about taking on as coach and if so why?
PA: Sure I had no doubts, since I have coached our youth long enough and like coaching as much as playing. However I didn’t take the job quite voluntarily since nobody originally took over from Harry Grönlund, but I felt that Team Finland deserves a “full-time” head coach in Odense.
HB: Which has been your best moment so far as Head Coach?
PA: That would the final of the Nordic Championships when Kosti Salonen showed what a good day in the office means to him!
HB: And which was the toughest moment so far as Head Coach?
PA: That was few hours before when we lost the men’s team silver to Denmark.
HB: How long are you planning to stay as Head Coach for the Team Finland?
PA: I am planning only for this year. I wish to play again in Predazzo 2010, if my game is on acceptable level and I get selected by the new head coach.
HB: You are soon to leave for Odense. What are your expectations of the performance on Teams Finland in Odense?
PA: We have a plan and if we work like the plan says and can reach our maximum in the comp, we’ll have a good result. Which is realistically rank 5 for men at its best, but even that is not easy of course. We don’t unfortunately have ladies’ team this time.
HB: What do you think about the level of felt Minigolf in Finland, compared to other countries? Are Finnish felt players any better than Germans, Austrian or Swiss players?
PA: Not any longer if they ever were. Every country has good felt courses nowadays. But on the other hand we are not automatically worse any more on concrete than the others either. It’s all about the players’ quality.
HB: You have picked some new names for this year’s Team Finland. Do you have any comments about why you nominated those names?
PA: All the players have played either some youth competitions or even in men’s team. I have worked with them all before and know that this team will work 100 % for our common goals and I am proud to work with them.
HB: What are your favourites for medals in the Team Competition on men’s and ladies side?
PA: It would be careless to say that anyone else than Sweden is the title favorite in both categories. And just as clearly as that I see Germany on rank 2 in men’s category. In ladies’ category I’d give Austria an outside chance for silver, but also there it’s Germany who’s the favorite for 2nd place.
HB: Are there any nations or players that you think will have a breakthrough this year?
PA: I don’t think so, the usual strong nations should rather profit from this year’s system. Of course if one of our players or our team breaks through, I’d be more than happy!
HB: Can you mention any favorites as you see it for the individual medals in Odense?
PA: We’ll have to see how difficult the courses really are first. If the balance between felt and miniature is good, we surely shall have more candidates than if felt is dominating, and I believe we’ll have also a challenging miniature course. Marco Templin has showed earlier good qualities in match play and now with Fille Svensson we have one Swede there who knows how to win these matches too. Otherwise there are the usual suspects.
HB: There has been much discussion on the Internet about the new KO modus played in the individual finals at international championships. What is your opinion about the KO-modus?
PA: I am for the K.O-mode, but will accept and adapt to any mode which is written in the invitation and used in any competition. Just play the ball into the hole and think about the system afterwards!
HB: What is your opinion on the limited training time allowed in Odense?
PA: Interesting idea, one of the reasons why I took the coaching job. I just think that this will remain unique, because realizing such events is not exactly a small project.
HB: What is your opinion about the concept of playing championships indoors?
PA: I am rather neutral here, it doesn’t matter if indoors or outdoors. Of course there’ll be no weather risk, but Minigolf is basically an outdoor sport with all the external influences as a part of the game.
HB: Many are stating that since its felt the gold will be safe with Sweden. Is Swedish players really so much better on felt than the rest of the world’s top players?
PA: Not so much any more, but still a bit yes. We have seen that German juniors have beaten them twice in four years (2005 and 2008) on felt/eternite, when the felt course was rather short as they are used to.
HB: There is much focus in some countries on MOS-courses and especially artificial grass courses. The first competitions have been played with various impressions amongst competition players. What is your opinion about artificial grass as a competition arena?
PA: I have never played on artificial grass, just some MOS with felt surface in Great Britain. I liked that too, I always like Minigolf!!! But I would not like to play only on these lanes. I have grown up on European style courses and therefore I see it only as logical consequence that I like these courses more.
HB: The youth world championships 2010 will be played at a MOS beton course in Sochi, Russia after evaluation from you. What do you think of this development with MOS courses entering the Championships?
PA: That’s a first step. If the courses are good and playable and the organizer is able to organize a good event, it shouldn’t matter on which system it takes place. However I would like to remind, that before a nation and a club/course is applying for a tournament on MOS, there can be no such championship. For private-owned courses, as the MOS-courses often are, it may not be very attractive to close the course for two weeks during the main season.
HB: It has been some debate in recent years on the Internet about the referees in international competitions, and especially the timekeeping of players. Do you have any comments about the referees or the time rules at championships?
PA: There will always be a debate about the referees, that’s in any sport. As long as we have 36 lanes and max. 5 referees on the course, everyone understands that everything can’t be covered. However now watching the referees’ work here in Waldshut at YEC the referee team is doing a good job and the players also respect it. Interactivity between players and referees is important. There must be respect to both directions, and I feel that in juniors this is working well.
HB: Again thanks for participating a good luck with the team in Odense.
PA: Thanks Hans.