Imagine being 25 and still not having played at the national team, but a few years later… you’re two times World Champion! It happened to Finnish center player Joonas Pylsy.
In our interview series with Joonas Pylsy, we already covered his decision to move to Switzerland, his thoughts and expectations and his statistics in his club career. We now dive deeper into his national team career with Finland.
At what time does one usually make his or her debut in a national team? It might depend on the level of the country and the amount of licensed player, but talents might be found at a young age. This didn’t turn out to be the case with Pylsy. To be clear: the young Joonas surely was a talented floorball player who won the Finnish U18 championships once and the U21 championship even thrice, but his national team career didn’t start off that smoothly.
“You’ll never play in the national team.”
The current Finnish head coach Petteri Nykky used to coach a lot of other teams, like Alligator Malans (Switzerland), Classic (Finland) and the Swiss national team. In 2014, Joonas Pylsy spoke to him at the University World Championships in Singapore. “Do you see a national team player in me?”, Pylsy asked.
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Nykky responded by saying “No! You’ll never play in the national team”, as at that time, he thought Pylsy was too small. In our interview, Pylsy said: “After that, I wanted to show him. And I succeeded.”
In 2015, just a year later, Joonas Pylsy made his debut in the Finnish national team. He improved a lot as a player during his time in Switzerland at Tigers Langnau, which granted him a spot in the final roster.
Ironically, Switzerland was Finland’s opponent when Pylsy made his debut. He found the net in the first period already and with a hattrick, he helped his team beating Switzerland 11-4: “It was a pretty good start for my national team career.”
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Two times gold
After his debut, Pylsy became more and more important for the Finnish squad. He made it to the final roster for the World Floorball Championships 2016 in Riga and managed to claim gold after winning the final against Sweden 4-3 after a penalty shootout.
Two years later, in 2018, Finland won the gold medal again after another victory over Sweden (6-3). Pylsy showed some of his best play and made it to the All-Star Team as the center of the tournament. So far, he’s played 46 games for the Finnish national in which he scored 37 times and gave 27 assists.
Sharing the field with Mika Kohonen
In the national team, Pylsy won gold twice together with one of his floorball idols: “I grew up in Vaajakoski and Mika Kohonen used to live in my neighboorhood. He played at Happee too, before I had my breakthrough. At the time when I made it to the first team of Happee, Mika played in Sweden. He was the superstar, then already – although he still is at the moment. We both played at the center position, so he was my idol when I dreamed to play in Happee’s first team.”
“Another Happee legend was Petri Kauko, he played at the center spot too. He’s always played at Happee, and I think with over 550 games played, he’s one of the players with the most games in the Finnish league. We have a strong friendship with Petri, he’s even my child’s godfather.”
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In 2020, Finland hosts the World floorball Championships. “It’s my home WFC in that case, the biggest event for me for next year. It’s so rare to have the home advantage in a WFC, so it would be nice if I can play there.”
When asked if there’s already pressure building op towards December 2020, Pylsy answers: “Of course! There is always pressure for us, and especially for next year when we play in Finland. However, there’s some pressure for Sweden as well as they have now lost two finals in a row. We’ve had two training camps already with the Finnish squad, of which the last one was at the end of July. We now have about twenty players from the national team around and about the same from the U23 team.”
So far, Pylsy’s time with the Finnish team has been an enormous success and in 2020 – with the chances of winning a third gold medal – it might even get better. Is the best yet to come? Time will tell.
This article is part of a larger interview with Joonas Pylsy. If you have any questions to Pylsy, contact us via social media or mail.