RoPS Head Coach Juha Malinen will be traveling to the United States again this December to attend PSC’s Pro Soccer Combines in San Diego and Las Vegas to evaluate talent ahead of his 2015 season in the Finnish Veikkausliiga (top tier). We caught up with him ahead of his travels to find out about his experiences of PSC combines in the past and exactly what attributes he is looking for in a player at PSC’s Pro soccer Trials and Tryouts.
“Can you please tell us a brief history of your coaching background in Finland?”
I am just finishing my first year with RoPS in the top tier in Finland. I am actually Finland's all-time second experienced coach at the highest level. RoPS is my seventh club and I have amassed about 450 games in Veikkausliiga (top tier) and more than 100 international games in European cups as well as being the Youth National coach of Finland and U21 coach in Kazakhstan and coaching Shahter Karaganda in the Kazakhstan Superleague.
“So you have quite an extensive career so far and a great knowledge of the Finnish League structure and play. Can you give us a background about the structure of Finnish football and the different levels?”
I think Finland is a fantastic stepping stone to Europe for players across the World. We play the summer league from April to the end of October and at the highest level, we also have the League Cup from February to March (mostly played in full-sized indoor halls). In Veikkausliiga (top tier) there are 12 teams, the bottom place team is relegated to Ykkönen (2nd tier). We also have Kakkonen (third tier) and I think the way the system is set is a perfect place to start a career and progress through the leagues not only in Finland but into the bigger leagues in Europe.
“After attending last winter's pro combines on the west coast what were your initial thoughts about the quality of play in the United States (Strengths & Weaknesses)?”
Players at PSC’s Pro Soccer Combines have a dream and I was impressed with how much they are willing to do to make it come true. Their attitudes are great and the best players are physically in very good shape. The players seemed to be used to playing in a direct way which is what European coaches are looking for. Tactically some players need some instruction but if they have all the necessary physical and technical attributes then the tactical understanding is something we can work on together once they are at the club.
“Which combines will you be attending this winter and what are you looking forward to the most?”
For sure I will be attending San Diego and Las Vegas. PSC is doing great work and everything around the combines is just fantastic. I am also thinking of joining the first combines in January if it fits with my schedule. I am most looking forward to seeing what the players have to offer and if I can find a player capable of playing for RoPS next season. There is also a possibility I will come with RoPS to play in a tournament in California – It is a great place to try and recruit players for my league.
“What advice would you give to players attending the combines this winter and what are the types of players you require for RoPS this season?”
The combines are a great place to compare your skills with other players. If you are in good shape you can show your skills to the observing coaches in 3 days. Besides those I am looking for something extra because that difference makes you a star. Is it skill, speed, or strength…, each player is different and excels in their own way….it is up to You! I am looking forward to finding some quality players at these events that I can bring back to Finland and not only boost my season but kick-start their careers.
“Thanks, Juha, we’re looking forward to linking up again with you this December!”
RoPS Head Coach Juha Malinen will be attending PSC’s San Diego and Las Vegas combines this December. If you are interested in trying out in front of him and our other European, Asian, and American scouts please see our combine page or submit a registration form.