“Organizations are not built for youth to be involved in decision making. THAT is an issue.” We talk to Finnish President Perttu Jussila

Break Dancing will be considered for an Olympic place in 2024 in France and NOT bowling. This came as a shock to some and expected by others but will it be a turning point for any future bids to Olympic status.

 

Many opinions voiced in the aftermath of the news and positive outlooks by many. One of these from Finnish Federation president Perttu Jusilla who threw out a challenge for Federations and Associations to listen the the youth more and to start committees with Youth bowlers. The National Association of Youth bowling clubs in the United Kingdom heard Perttu’s challenge and accepted in a few days with an announcement to start a youth committee. Others it is hoped will follow and share their thoughts and experiences with others. We spoke to Perttu to find out more about his challenge and thoughts for the future.

A week where we saw another snub for bowling in the Olympics Perttu. You were quick though to fire out a challenge. for each and every member federation of World Bowling to create a youth committee that has at least 3/4 of its members under age of 25. Give them a chance and listen what they have to say. NAYBC in England heard the call and announced their intentions.Have you started this process in Finland?

I actually went through my old columns that I used to write for finnish bowling magazine and the healine of my very first one was “even youth have opinions”. Im super happy to see NAYBC stepping forward and in Finland we will discuss about this in our next board meeting which is next week. So yes, its in process! and that first column was back in 2007 so over a decade ago haha. I guess that is something considering that im only 27.

As disappointing as the news was last week, are you positive a youth movement can form and drive a future bid for bowling in the Olympics?

Definitely. We tried very hard to get into Olympics in 2020 and 2024. I think it is safe to say that we are in the crossroads now. We have been going this one way which seems to be a circle so why not to try different approach. I’m absolutely certain that the issue it is not the itself sport, it is the image that people have about bowling.

Changing that image will not be easy and with many other things for young people to do. What other things will you as a president be looking at in Finland to keep youth numbers up?

No it is not easy but it is a challenge which we have to overcome. I believe that we need to be where the youth are meaning social media. Last spring we hired marketing designer for our federation. We have been using youtube way more, co-operating with schools etc. This needs patience which definitely is not my strong suit but I am still realist. It will take longer than a year or two until we see results. That is exactly the reason why we need to proceed now.l

Bowling is not cheap now and as a sport we are maybe pricing ourselves out of big numbers. Ball, shoes, bag and one event is costly enough, can this be addressed or will the sport get more expensive?

On the high level it is expensive yes but I think starting bowling is not that expensive. It is always where you compare. In Finland they made a massive research about the cost of different sports for youth. Soccer costs 34000 euros in 10 years. Of course this varies from country to country and there are places where only rich can bowl but that is same with almost every sport. I think we should focus on messaging how easy it is to start bowling.

One issue starting to appear in countries is String Bowling. Traditionalists already are vocal and dismissive of this code of bowling. Where do Finland fall on this issue and If it takes hold in more centres and countries, will this be the bowling the youth are doing in the future?

We have very few centers with string machines which are only for open bowling so we have not dealt with this issue yet. But I think we should ask ourselves which is better: bowling with string machines or not bowling at all? There will always be changes which are not ideal in our perspective but we just have figure out how to make it work. I think i’m some sort of traditionalists as well because I think “fixing” our scoring system was very questionable move. We have quite a few thing we need to work with to lets save our energy and not fix those which are working.

You touched earlier on social media and what drives the youth of today. It is fast moving and reaction based but has changed the way bowling is consumed by the wider public. Brands have helped create heroes and stars to follow. Youtubers are more famous than other celebrities, Facebook is where people now live and a host of other options from Instagram to Twitter. Is this where the Youth can drive change by making bowling popular on these platforms?

I believe so yes! I think the main thing now is to create these youth committees or councils and listen what they have to say and most importantly we have to be open minded. It would be rather silly of me to say what the youth can or cannot do. The thing is that so far we have not given them much of chance to share their opinions. As I wrote before it is not only that we are not allowing youth to be involved. I speak from experience when I say that our organizations are not built for youth to be involved in decision making. THAT is an issue.

 

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