Finland U-15 national team plays its first international match on Tuesday 25 April against its U-15 counterpart from Slovakia. The match will be played in Eerikkilä sports center in Finland on both 25 and 27 April.
Samuel Anini Junior is one of the players who made it to Finland U-15 national team. “I feel a little bit nervous about the coming game because this is my first time of playing for the national team and I believe a lot of people are coming to watch the match.” Junior says. Despite the little nervousness, he is confident that Finland will win both matches.
The final selection of Finland U-15 national team was recently announced. In February 2017, 28 players and 4 goalkeepers were initially called to train at the national team camp in Eerikkilä, of which 16 players and 2 goalkeepers made it to the final squad of the junior national team.
According to Junior, he was not expecting to be in the final team when he was initially called to join the team at the national team camp. He says that his performances at the camp were good, which made him feel that he could be selected. “I feel very happy that I made it to the final team,” he says. He is the first footballer with Ghanaian parents to play for Finland on a national level.
Junior joined his first football club at an early age of 5. He currently plays for Pallokerho Keski-Uusimaa (PKKU) in Tuusula, about 35 km from Helsinki and he has played with them for 3 years now. He has earlier played with two clubs before joining PKKU. According to Junior, combining school and football is sometimes difficult especially during exams period. Even though it is difficult, he tries to do better in all his academic subjects. “I could perform even better in school if it was not for the football,” he says. He wants to take football as a professional career, however he does not want to comment on whether he wants to play for Ghana in the future.
The entire Anini family celebrated Junior’s achievement when Samuel Anini, Junior’s father, received the news by e-mail from the U-15 national coach. “It was great news. We celebrated with shouts of joy and popped champagne, and congratulated him. We now leave the rest to God.” Anini says.
Junior is very passionate about football and Anini believes his selection to the national team is a step in the right direction. Anini enrolled Junior to a football club as a form of a hobby and the intention was not to reach this far. “Up until when Junior was called to the national team, I still treated it as a hobby. Now we will have to look at how he can polish his skills and put more seriousness into it.” Anini says.
Playing for a football club in Finland at the junior level comes with a cost, the amount of which varies from club to club. Anini pays 160 euros per month in PKKU, which is exclusive of jerseys, socks and boots. “With all costs included, I pay not less than 250 euros per month.” he says. There is additional cost when a club plays tournament outside Finland. Within this year Junior has played 2 tournaments abroad, which cost at least 600 euros for each trip. According to Anini, the parents bear all the cost of their wards.
Anini was also a footballer when he was younger. He recalls playing for his primary school team and also when he was in the middle school, however he believes Junior’s talent is unique and was not inherited from the family. “He has a lot of control over the ball and he is very fast and dangerous around the 18 yard box.” he says.
Anini does not want to comment on whether he wants his son to play for Ghana senior national team, the Black Star, in the future. “Junior’s dream team is Chelsea and I wish that he plays for one of the European football clubs in the future. I am not keen on what country he plays for in the future.” He says.