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Cocks’ “Alfa and Omega”, Jari Viita: Money isn’t a question when I see full hall of kids playing handball

TOP handball in Finland? Only few years ago it could be taken as a nice joke, but now is reality more and more. The Finish champions Cocks from Riihimaki (28.700 inhabitants) are playing VELUX EHF Champions League for the second season in a row after presence at EHF Cup.

The person who is staying under the project of the Cocks is Jari Viita, the 55-years old businessman who can explain his investment in our sport with using only two words “community and feelings”. The guy which “weight” is 55.000.000 EUR annually with company of 450 employees, put his small town on the European handball map.

Handball-Planet.com talked with him about his team, plans for the future and vision…

Mr Viita, what was the idea at the beginning of your “handball life” with a local team like Cocks?

  • This project began in 2000. We have found out that the closest city to Riihimaki playing ice hockey, another one is place for baseball, so I was in the summer house with my friends, thinking what to make in and for our city. Then, we make decision it can be handball, as we had tradition since 1965, when teacher Martti Pohjola moved from Helsinki to Riihimaki. When I was young I was playing handball at school. It feels in Riihimaki, we have some handball atmosphere, so our decision was to make something big in handball. So, we did for 15 years some basic business and crown of everything came in playing at Champions League in the last two season. However, we are still new and our plan is to continue.

You had three wins at Champions League this season instead of two in the previous one. Are you satisfied?

  • No, we are not satisfied, there were some games we were totally disaster and we were losing too much. Last season we had goal difference -24, now it is more than -50. Sometimes we were total disaster and sometimes we played very good. In general, I am not satisfied with the season.

COCKS ARE LOOKING FOR A NEW COACH

What is the plan, which players will go, who will come? How do you see the roster for the next season?

  • The main players which I like and think that they can progress I have already signed. To be honest, we have to find a new coach. Gintaras (Savukynas) made a great job for four seasons, but there is only one Alex Ferguson to stay in one club for 20 and more years. In my opinion, 4-5 years is enough for the coach.

Which kind of coach you would like to have? Scandinavian or…

  • A very good friend of mine Lasse Boesen is now looking together with me for the new coach. He is helping me a lot, we are the team now. We are close to hire someone, but money is one thing, and second is that our players are not fully professional as some of them have some light jobs apart of handball.

BOESEN IS NEW MEMBER OF THE TEAM

Will Lasse get some official role in the team?

  • Let’s say that he is a sports director. His father Jens Boesen helped me a lot. He opened a lot of doors in the handball world to me, when I just began. He presented me with the words “this is Jari Vitaa, he wants to grow up in handball”. He is my partner and Lasse’s father. Lasse won’t be a coach, but he can help us in scouting players. At this level, you have to have someone who understand what is going on at the court and around. I have to be honest, I don’t understand everything that is happening. Sometimes, I am drinking beer in my cabin, so someone has to know everything and react quickly. That is the reason why we are together with Lasse.

How do you see Finnish handball in the moment? Do Cocks help in the progress?

  • There are the teams which are putting efforts to become stronger. Finnish people are so shy. We had a meeting with Taneli Tiilikainen, five teams want to take part at Challenge Cup. It looks like, we showed the road to the highest level, other teams want to follow us. Dicken’s president also works for handball and that is very good for our sport.

You are playing at the brand new hall in Riihimaki with 2.500 seats. You invested 4.000.000 EUR of your money. How do you think you can get something back?

  • I have got last week, as we have 800 kids in the hall. This is not something what will make your bank account bigger, but when you see 800 kinds playing handball, that has nothing with money. You can make money in bussiness, but when you see kids playing handball, then I can only crying.

You have also a sauna inside…

  • People from EHF told me that they have never seen in before. Sauna in a handball hall.

How do you see your project in five years from now?

  • I want to see ourselves among TOP 16 teams in Europe, but we have to work a lot on it. We can fix everything to make even bigger hall for it. In terms of regulations, I expect to see rules about taking off centerline and four passes on pasive play.

In which competition Cocks will play in the “handball Europe” from the next season?

  • We don’t know on which basis will be taken decisions, what we have to show or guarantee. EHF is sleeping a little bit. We want to know where we are and where we gonna be.

How big is your budget?

  • It’s between 1.0 and 1.500.000 EUR, it depends. We want to be a part of European handball and then, we can find some money somewhere, together with my friends. It is not only me if we know that Cocks will play on the highest level, then we can find some money – it is honest at the end of an interview for Handball-Planet.com, Jari Viita.

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