Radim Mušálek, 33, comes from Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. He first visited Finland as a 15-year-old to take part in an ice hockey tournament. He already thought then that this could be a place to come back to. Everything was clean and people took care of the environment.
"I came to Kouvola as an exchange student 10 years ago. When I graduated from university in the Czech Republic in 2010, I moved back to Kouvola to be with my then-girlfriend."
Radim did not find a full-time job at first. He studied Finnish full time and worked part-time in a pizzeria. He moved to Helsinki for work and now works in the financial field as an entrepreneur and as a comment manager at the Health Innovation Village campus.
"Everyone always thinks that I'm making a joke when I say that the best things about Finland are nature and the weather", Radum laughs. He enjoys the winter, ice hockey and skiing.
"Some foreigners enjoy their time with each other in Finland but for me it has always been important to get to know local people and the local culture. Ice hockey players are a much bigger community in Finland which makes it easier to get to know new people", Radim says.
Radim found the pond hockey team Käpylän Maanantai easily.
"When I moved to Helsinki, I was looking for a hockey team and I finally found one by asking around. They would play and just go home afterwards, and I was looking for something more social", Radim says.
A team mate on the same team asked Radim to be a goalkeeper on another team, Käpylä Maanantai. The name – Käpylä Monday – gets its name from a group of friends who started meeting on Mondays at the ice rink in Helsinki's Käpylä district to play ice hockey. Radim enjoyed the community spirit of the team and that the team organised other activities aside from playing too. He could play, but also make new friends.
I didn't realise that there were groups on Facebook looking for hockey players and goalkeepers. At first, it was difficult to find people to play with but now I could easily play hockey four times a week. You just have to know people and say out loud what you are missing, and this way you can find your own community.
The Käpylä Maanantai has about 80 players all in all. The team is split into smaller groups that also play soccer and futsal. In addition to Finns, there are also players from Canada, Russia, Scotland, France, Nepal, Thailand and Argentina. There are both male and female players.
The communal sauna evening is organised a couple of times a year. The teams take part in tournaments in both Finland and abroad. The soccer team has played in Barcelona and the ice hockey team is heading to Murmansk in February.
"We still have our pond hockey evening every Monday at the Käpylä sports park. Pond hockey doesn't require proper ice hockey gear so it is easier to just jump in", Radim says.
The team also plays traditional, more physical ice hockey, which is played on two different levels as the players have very varied skills and experience.
Anyone is free to join in and play, even the President of Finland. This actually happened in 2011 when a familiar-looking man walked past the rink. The team invited the president Sauli Niinistö to come and play and he did. This anecdote lives on in the team's moniker Presidential Ice Hockey Club.
The Save Pond Hockey association was founded in 2015 when the core team of Käpylä Maanantai wanted to raise awareness about climate change and global warming, and started to organise pond hockey tournaments.
"Ten years ago there were piles of snow half a metre high that would stay for three or four months, but this is no longer the case. The winters are getting warmer and shorter", Radim laments.
Save Pond Hockey is completely volunteer-run. It involves about 15 people, as well as their family and friends who help out with arrangements.
The tournaments take place around Finland. The participation fees and advertising funds go to initiatives fighting climate change. Radim finds organising the tournaments very meaningful.
"Instead of staying home and complaining, we can get together and have fun and actually do something that matter", Radim says.
Käpylä Maanantai is a pond hockey and ice hockey club that plays in winter and every Monday night at the Käpylä sports park. The club also has football and futsal teams. Anyone is welcome to join. The Save Pond Hockey tournaments combat climate change. The association organises pond hockey tournaments and donates the profits to initiatives that address climate change.