The World Swamp Football Championship will take place this Friday and Saturday amid the mud and muck of Vuorisuo bog in Hyrynsalmi in the Kainuu region of Finland.
The ideal conditions on field are wet and soft ground. This year’s dreary pre-championship weather has yielded indulgently swampy conditions for the main event.
Veteran player Miia Lehtonen, from Turku, is playing her ninth championship in Hyrynsalmi. She says that team spirit and a sense of humour are tipped for these “slightly worse conditions”.
According to Lehtonen, in swamp soccer, gentlemen’s rules are in place.
“Opponents have always been nice. After the game, we shake hands and joke around with opposing teams. Swamp soccer is not really a game to be played with gritted teeth,” says Lehtonen.
Contestants arrive in Hyrynsalmi from different countries. First-timer from Sweden, Emerson Jonsson was surprised at the sheer bogginess of the locale.
“The most important thing here is the feeling that everyone is having fun. Only then is the match won,” says Jonsson.
The two-day competition has been known to attract up to 30,000 spectators and competitors, according to the event’s website.