The Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) celebrated its centenary on Saturday 13 April 2024 with a gala at the Koskenranta Event Centre in Helsinki.

The Annual Ball was filled with a great atmosphere in a celebration that brought together general secretaries from five decades, chairpersons from as far back as the 1970s and a large number of OLL alumni, students who were active in unions, university sports staff, representatives of national physical education and sport organisations and influencers from international networks. 

Among the guests and officials welcomed were Adam Roczek, President of the European University Sports Association (EUSA) and Fernando Parente, Director of Development and Healthy Campus of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). 

Awards were presented to sports clubs and individuals for their outstanding work in furthering the aims of OLL. An Honorary Award was presented to a person who has made a significant contribution to the aims of OLL over a long period of time, Senior Special Advisor for University Sport Jussi Ansala received the award to a standing ovation. 

The Finnish Student Sports Federation is now 100 years old. EUSA
The Finnish Student Sports Federation is now 100 years old. EUSA

Ansala emphasised the importance of multiple partners and the development of intergenerational advocacy: "I would like to stress the cooperation between people of different generations. For example, the current regional system of university sports services did not emerge in a historical vacuum. Its roots lie in the work done by actors in the field in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s." 

The official address was given by Sandra Bergqvist, Minister for Youth, Sport and Physical Activity and patron of OLL's centenary. She highlighted the importance of the University on the Move network as a force that brings higher education institutions together. 

She also mentioned the competitions organised in Finland and the success of Finnish athletes in the European Universities Championships as factors that increase motivation. Bergqvist also presented the crosses and medals of merit for Finnish sport awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

One of the many pictures of people attending the celebration. EUSA
One of the many pictures of people attending the celebration. EUSA

"The celebration brought together old and new people, Finnish and international guests, all with the desire to promote students' wellbeing, functional capacity and enjoyment of exercise. This is a good foundation from which to move into the next decade of student sport and physical activity and new advocacy goals," said secretary general Niko Peltokangas. 

The celebrations concluded with a torch relay by OLL and all of Finnish student sports. The relay will travel around Finland, visiting members and various centenary celebrations, and will end at the General Assembly in November. 

"The torch, which was lit to great applause at the ceremony, represents the importance of working together, and the 100-year-old OLL invites all higher education communities to work for more movement in universities. Together we are strong and we are getting closer and closer to Universities on the Move," said OLL President Mio Kortelainen.