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Läänela 90 – Läänemaa spordi lugu

Läänela 90 – Läänemaa spordi lugu


I remember hitting the ball
against the wall of the apartment building and I tried to hit the ball really high. And then I wondered – is this tennis? At that time, I probably wanted to become a world class tennis player. Not to get to the top, but to play tennis. I remember one time,
it was in the Haapsalu Elementary School gym. For some reason I was watching
everyone fence. There were so many of those white costumes, masks
and weapons. That one memory somehow stayed with me. It is precisely these costumes, weapons and masks
that make him different from others. It was so different, somehow. Cool! Children tend to like this kind of thing.
I liked it too. I was four years old then. We were in the countryside.
I remember being in a bad mood. I went to my room. My mother came in, too.
To console me, I think. And she found chess pieces under the bed and started
teaching me the moves. I immediately took a liking to the game. I remember cheering up as soon
as she took them out. The Läänela Sports Association was created in the year 1928.
The association was active until 1940 and was recreated in 1990. All the organisations that were created,
including sports organisations, tried to act as successors.
And so did we. We found all the old Läänela
props, flags and documents and wanted to continue the same activities
under the Läänela name. The situation was interesting and the era
in general was interesting. Ever since Estonia regained its independence,
all areas of life, including sports, began to search for their own character. We went abroad a lot
to gain new experiences. And kept investigating how
sports can do better. How to make more people do sports. As there were club systems in other countries,
we looked at how to start these clubs in Estonia as well. When we went to Norway or Denmark
and heard that there are districts and villages where basically everyone is a member of a club and
does sports, it was very exciting for us. It would be great if the situation
was like that here, too. We had great disputes in Estonia
and locally about how to make the old system and
the new system work together. Clubs and sports schools. What about them?
How can they be joined? Those systems were a bit…
They didn’t really cooperate. And as was common in Estonia, there were
many ways people dealt with these issues. Historically, we have gone so far as to preserve
sports schools and create clubs in addition. I think history has shown that it
might not have been the worst idea. In the beginning of 2018, there were 65 sports organisations
active in Läänemaa, 4 of which were sports schools. When I was involved in this issue
and had a little influence on it, my opinion was that, although we are a small place,
the more varied types of sports we offer, the more useful it is to our
community, parents and children. As a trainer, I might disagree. It would be great if everyone did fencing
or played tennis, the same way they only play handball in Põlva. But I
don’t think it’s the right way to go. There must be the option to choose
between sports and ultimately benefit. I think sports in Läänemaa still relies on Haapsalu
and is at a pretty good level. We are a unique city, as we have
many types of sports that you can’t find everywhere. Football, athletics, tennis –
those are everywhere. But here in Haapsalu, we also have
sailing, shooting, fencing… How many other cities can
boast about sports like these? Considering the small size of Läänemaa,
the sports we do… If you look at Läänemaa
championships and the kinds of sports that take place and the sports school association calendar and
what kind of sports they are doing, the list of activities is like that of a very big municipality
or a city or district. They are definitely not few in number. Even in the small Lihula,
there is variety, choice. And if we are talking about results,
no one can say that there are as many prized fencers anywhere else. These types of sports
are specialities of the region. Another thing is that the sports centres
here have developed a lot. For example, in the mid-90s,
there were none in Risti, Virtsu, which is now in a different county, but a new sports hall has been created in Oru
in the past 20 years. Now the Ridala sports hall is also almost ready. And if I think back 20 years,
it’s completely night and day. People in Läänemaa can do sports in 84 sports venues.
Among those are a swimming centre, a golf course, archery fields, ball courts, an off-road vehicle trail,
a shooting range and indoor halls. From 2001 to today,
we have built almost 20 new sports venues or
fully renovated existing ones. And the situation is almost the same in Tuksi. Tuksi Sports Centre, which has also developed
in the last 10-15 years. So at least one venue a year
has been our firm creed. The most recent example is the fencing hall. And now we see that it
is not even one venue a year, but this year we have 4-5. This field of work is vast and the Haapsalu sports centres
continue to grow and modernise. In addition, there are modified rooms, either
cultural centres or old gyms, in which you can do sports.
And there are many of those gyms… Where there is interest, the possibility has been created
by a youth centre at least. It exists, and the possibilities are,
I think, better than they ever have been. We are lucky because our sports centres
are closely connected with schools. All morning lessons happen in sports centres. So our centres are full of classes
from eight in the morning. We can be very pleased that things are happening here. In 2005, a company league was started in Läänemaa –
a series of competitions in which all interested people could participate. The series is still active under the name League of Läänemaa Friends. Health sports have grown,
which I think is really great. There are more runners, ice skaters in the winter and skiers whenever there is snow
than I think there were in the late 90s. Back then, it seemed as though everyone
was doing their own thing at home after work, but nobody thought much about
sports as a hobby or lifestyle. There is definitely more of that now. A lot. I also really like what
the Paralepa cycling club is doing. It is a good example of a club that
doesn’t belong to one coach who coaches kids, gets money and does his job. Rather, they are fanatics who love
the sports they do. Cycling as well as endurance training,
running and ice-skating marathons. And are looking for opportunities to
have competitions. And competition series. That’s a big thing, when it’s not just
a competition but a tournament. There’s more incentive to train
because you know you are not cycling
just to compete once a year. You can do six rides in a year
without even leaving the county. You have the opportunity to improve your place at each stage. I really value those. And I hope there will be more of these kinds of
sports club activities. Thinking about fitness and health
in your free time – meaning nutrition, physical activity –
is very popular right now. It has indeed changed
and it’s a really positive thing. If you cannot see it,
go to Paralepa forest. So many walkers, so many runners! I think the situation has really
changed for the better. And look at the sports centres! How many there are! And looking at company sports,
which I started here in 2005. I started it under the company league name. And the idea at the time was not
to bring athletes but office workers, people
who work every day and have maybe never even seen sports
and lead them away from the desk and to the gym. What a feeling! You see, the fact that you are playing and
present is not important, but what is important is the support that comes
from the village and the parish. It was actually pretty awesome. If you consider how many people live in a city
and there are 370 people in a parish, you can understand whether it’s a city or a parish.
As if they were the same size. It was actually a perpetual trophy. But because it was the last year, I got to keep it. It’s the best player’s title. We have four sons. Since they were children,
we have been doing sports whenever we have free time. As we have room at home, there is a volleyball court
and a basketball court, we have played. Years ago, we held volleyball
tournaments at the stadium. Four against four. We had our own family team. Whenever possible, we have always gone
out with the family, no matter where. The family comes together, and we don’t have to
come together on birthdays only. We can also do something. I’ve been playing volleyball as an amateur from the very beginning in Nõva, then Taebla
and with the Nõva team. And basketball. And so it has gone. We took the children along. They were already coming along
before they had even started school. I guess it stuck with them. And let’s say everything starts with the home,
but if the school also encourages sports. At the time, Peeter Kallas came here, who
also did lots of sports and brought everyone along. And since the children had already been playing sports at home
and also at school, it came naturally. No one had to force them to do anything. Everything has come naturally. It did, I remember, we went
along to practices as children. And then at school we had practice after class. That’s how it has been. Me and my friend… I guess we were bored, just raising children. And we thought we should
start running. And so we did.
A little more every day. And now we still run. I haven’t done a lot of competitions,
but I have run 4 marathons. For a long time we thought we should do that. And when the first marathon happened in Haapsalu,
we thought, that’s close by, let’s do it. Now we’ve run all the
Haapsalu marathons. Four. I don’t know. It seemed exciting to challenge yourself. When you go running, you have your own thoughts. You chat with your friend. And afterwards… You feel rested. You’ve just run 10 kilometres,
but actually your mind has been cleared and everything is okay. I don’t know if I consider
myself an amateur athlete. I just think of myself as a commuter or
runner or mover. I don’t train, I just
go running with friends. I don’t know, is that
an amateur athlete? In Läänemaa, there are 39 professional coaches. Why be a coach? Because it gives you the opportunity to offer people
the purest emotions. And if they don’t get anything else out of it,
at least they get a fun, happy childhood, an awesome long-term
adventure, many friends and plenty of memories to laugh about. And that’s no worse than a victory at the Olympics. Keeping them inside the court, now that’s a challenge. To keep the children from running amok. A coach can always ask for someone to help teach
the right techniques but to get the children in the court,
there needs to be something there. My father always said the coach
might as well stand on their head. It doesn’t matter what they do,
as long as it sparks passion in the children, they can get the children to do anything. I think the coach’s nature is what
finally moulds the child into their final shape; the top athlete. I want my practice to be
as interesting as possible. So time would fly. So the children won’t get bored. Otherwise, I’ll get bored too.
I can’t be at a boring practice. What do I do? I give my heart and soul to my children, my students, every minute. It’s clear that everything starts from the coach
but finding a coach is extremely difficult. Just like teachers, trainers, doctors… The state has a lot to do to bring
life back to the rural areas. The question is how to do sports.
What are we aiming for? If the coach’s ambitions are a lot
higher, the coach would want to put together a team. They would like to make top athletes because
it won’t be satisfying for them otherwise. Looking at the county, there
are definitely coaches who are enthusiasts, fanatics. But there is no system. There is no system for there to be consistency because no sport can be developed with just one group. Many coaches have
talked about this in Läänemaa, finding a new coach when they don’t have the energy anymore,
finding some new energetic young person to be a coach. With a salary that most likely will not feed a family. It is just very difficult. And it’s not like you
can choose someone random. There are high standards for coaches. There are a lot of people
who become coaches, thinking it’s really interesting
and really cool to be a coach. For a year or two or three they shine and then
they just burn out. And then they decide, no,
this is not actually my calling. I do think about it,
what will happen when I am gone. I work hard to make sure
fencing will not disappear from Haapsalu. When my father died, there were rumours in
town that fencing was now over in Haapsalu. It’s the exact same issue: one enthusiast
has been lost. And then I decided. I’ll show people that fencing is not going anywhere
and is becoming even stronger. That’s when I decided to
start working full force. I felt sad, I felt like I couldn’t do it. All his life’s work would have been lost. I didn’t want it to end. Of course that doesn’t mean
I was totally certain that I would achieve great results. Of course I didn’t think that. I just did my best. And when you do your best, I think
any person can be successful in any field. The children can, I think, do sports well. There are pretty good choices
in Haapsalu and the surrounding areas. Then on the spot… It’s luck, what kind of
coach you happen to get. If you happen to have a Physical Education teacher
who is good at table tennis, then in Virtsu, for example,
you can find a lot of good table tennis players. Or wrestlers from Martna. But if you happen to not be the wrestling type
or you just don’t want to do it, I don’t know what happens. And if the system is youth-oriented, what happens is they graduate from school, a few make it to Audentes to
continue their sports training and for the rest, their athletic life is over. And that is a shame. For me it was really difficult,
once you have taken that first group, progressed from somersaults and crawling to moves,
results and an Estonian championship medal. I remember well how I explained it. One point. 30 seconds standing. Let’s try not to lose the first period, let’s try to wrestle
for six minutes, four minutes. Let’s try to get one point, ten points. Let’s try to beat somebody. You go step by step
and keep building. And then what usually happens in rural areas, happens. There was a good group, they got
good results and then they go to school in the city. And then you get the young, clumsy,
overweight boys again, whom you have to work with. It’s really tough. In 2018, there were 21,174 people
living in the three municipalities in Läänemaa. 2450 of them were students. There is no other system in this county, nor can anyone decide to
focus solely on their sport in Taebla and someone else on another sport in another place, we all have to work together,
all the small places in Läänemaa. And why do we want to get all
the small places into basketball? Because they have gotten so small. When once there were 500 children in school in Taebla,
now there are only 100. Out of one hundred kids – I analysed
3rd and 4th grade children in the county – there are only around 40 to recruit into practice. If half of are girls and half are boys,
we only have 20. But one group itself should have 20 kids. Not everyone wants to do sports. It is difficult to be a coach in a rural area because there are no
two children at the same level. We cannot plan our training cycle
by doing, let’s say, these exercises. We cannot. We basically have to
create a unique plan for everyone. Why do we organise training camps? Simply to be together with other clubs and let
people of a similar level play with one another. We can set some training exercises. But if one keeps hitting the ball past the table,
there is nothing we can do. Things are going great here. I still laugh because we are only 30 kilometres away from Martna and
60 from Haapsalu. And Martna and Haapsalu are 30 kilometres apart. Wrestling is largely a
collision of egos. We’re just far enough from each other that
we are always happy to see each other once or twice a week. Eventually, there are so few of us
that when we go to competitions or have to be away for a while,
we always work together. We have reached a point where
it doesn’t actually matter if they are Tiidu’s students,
Aap’s students or mine. They are all our students. And it’s perfect. If I need to spend time with my family,
the students won’t miss out on competitions because of it. And I am happy to go
with their students, too. This is sport. There’s always a winner and a loser. From whistle to whistle. Inside the red ring,
it’s a whole other world. Outside of it, we are friends. The stronger your training partner is,
the stronger you will become. At the World Championships before last, we were in Sweden. The first race was right away. We struggled for a while
and Argo finally won the race. I was third. Some of the Germans watching said, “now that’s what we’re here for,
to see situations like this where the youth beat their forefathers.” I was happy, too. I have never really gifted him anything. When the two of us were struggling against each other, we did it till our noses were bleeding. But competitively,
not literally. It’s feels really good when you feel as though you have beaten someone
thanks to your own experience. I’ve been beaten a few times as well. Then I admit
that I made a miscalculation. You tend to learn little from your victories. You learn more from the losses. It’s been the same for me. You have more motivation
after being beat hard and you go home and think about what went wrong. To get things right. One of the most
emotional moments for me was when all four Haapsalu guys
were in the same team and got the silver medal in the European Championships. Even now, I’m tearing up. I’ll never forget that feeling.
It was amazing. Imagine it yourself. Novosjolov
did the last match. The third or fourth man in the world, in Switzerland, against Switzerland. Getting to the top two. Novosjolov went in with a double disadvantage. He had 30 seconds left and was behind four points.
Or something like that. A completely hopeless situation. He does one. He does another. He has 5 seconds, he’s behind one. He ties it. We’re all like… Really? Is he really going to do it? Then he did the winning thrust, a beautiful parry counter-six. It isn’t possible to describe the feeling. Something really big had just happened, something you had been working towards for
your entire life. It was just so incredible. Because of those moments,
I would recommend that every child get into professional sports. That’s a feeling that can’t be bought. I am proud of every achievement
reached by Haapsalu or Läänemaa. And those achievements are not few in number. Läänemaa may be large by area,
but it is small in population. Läänemaa will stay in the picture. You cannot hope that there will always
be world-class achievers in every field somewhere in Estonia. As there are occasional bright sparks in Estonia for the world,
there are also bright sparks in Läänemaa for Estonia. And even further. I see potential in Läänemaa, there are still children
who are completely unspoiled and only want to do sports. Just sports! Muddy knees
and bloody noses. So many children go to sports school. So many adults do sports. We have good coaches who want to train kids and there is hope that more good coaches
will come here to work with kids. And of course, no one else in Estonia
can compete with all those centres in one complex, like we have in Haapsalu. To be honest, it is a mini
preparation for the Olympics. How do you find it? First you have
to try different types of sports. I think people understand
what doesn’t suit them. If you seem to like something,
try it, and if it turns out to be different from what you expected,
you can try something else. To get to the top you need to have the willpower to do whatever it takes
and do it on your own if you have to. Then you might get somewhere. You might ask your coach for more practices or harder practices. You don’t just do it because you have to go to practice. You have to want to win
more than your opponent. There are a lot of those who will be satisfied with a tie. But those at the top always want to win,
no matter the situation. They will always play it through to the end.
To victory. And when the child leaves the coach and
steps into real life, even if not as an Olympic medallist,
at least as a good ambitious person, He has the right principles in life. Sports is discipline. Disciplining yourself. Because a person’s inner voice
will naturally tell them to take the easier way. You’re running, take the short cut. A person learns to push themselves
and strengthen their personality. Doing sports gives people a lot. We don’t even understand just how much.

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