Qualifying for the 2014 World Championship is a victory in itself for Finland as it marks a return to the tournament after a 32-year absence. The Finns last competed in Argentina in 1982, when they finished 17th. Their best result in a World Championship came in their debut appearance in 1952, when they took 11th spot.
The 2014 tournament will mark the nation’s seventh entry into the World Championships. They qualified in Slovakia in January after defeating Ukraine, Greece and Slovakia in a qualifying event. The ensuing ‘volleyball fever’ in the Nordic country left even the traditional winter sports trailing in their wake. According to Finland Volleyball Association sports director Antti Paananen “2014 will be the volleyball year of all time in Finland. It will be heavy for the team, but rewarding at the same time. We are now in there with the best teams in the world. This team is capable of anything.”
Having been competing regularly in the World League since 2006, and the European Championship since 2007, Finland have been steadily making their mark on the sport, and they finished third in Pool C of Group 2 (16th overall) in the 2014 World League. Since March 2013 the Finns have been coached by former player Tuomas Sammelvuo. He ranks qualification for Poland 2014 as among his greatest achievements in the game.