By Joonatan Akkanen IBL
This time last year I was in a different situation as I was living in another country, attending a different school and studying in a different kind of environment. Not to mention, I also had the opportunity to coach basketball in the first and the second leagues of Germany.
Already in the beginning of my first year at Metropolia I had decided to go somewhere on exchange as the school is offering a very wide variety of programmes and opportunities to do so. The exchange programme at Metropolia is very encouraging which makes it smooth for students to take a chance to explore the world and go on exchange.
I have had a fond interest in basketball all my life which later after high school turned into a coaching career. Thus, I wanted to keep it side by side with my business studies also during the exchange. That´s why my exchange selection process was a bit different as basketball was one very significant deciding factors for which country and city to move.
I started out by picking possible partner schools that had some top-basketball clubs operating close by the city. There were a couple of good options, however, Frankfurt became an obvious choice as the head coach, Gordon Herbert, had previously coached in the highest league of Finland and owns some NBA experience. With the help of other Finnish coaches´ references I had an opportunity to further discuss about the coaching opportunities in Frankfurt. Some weeks after visiting the clubs´ office for the interview we reached and signed a contract. After that I confirmed all the practical things with the local business school.
When I started, my days were basically filled with school in the mornings and practices every night. Rest of the time I spent getting to know the other exchange students. With all these new things happening, the beginning was extremely busy and the German very formal way of dealing with all the practical things did not make it any easier. However, after getting everything organized things became much easier.
In the beginning I was working as an assistant coach of the second team of Fraport Skyliners. However, quite quickly after the beginning of the season I also had an opportunity to join the practices of the first team that is playing in Bundesliga. I am very thankful for the head coach who took me to participate his practices, gave me responsibilities and chance to work in this professional environment.
Suddenly, I found myself working with the top-level professional basketball players and two very good teams. Naturally, I also wanted to take care of the school very well and leave a good image of Metropolia. However, that required some arrangements as we were travelling to the road games around the Germany and Europe every week.
Later during the season there were a few situations when I was asked to join the actual coaching staff of the first team in a game situation. At first basketball was supposed to be just a little extra besides the school, but, suddenly it had turned into something much more. The experience of participating in the game in front of an audience of 8000- 10 000 people was one of the greatest experiences of my life so far. It was also something that I could not have experienced by staying in Finland.
We did a good job through the year and at the end of the season we ended up winning a FIBA European Cup amongst 64-team participating around the Europe. In Bundesliga we suffered a tough loss in the semi-final and finished third. With the second team we went all the way up to the finals but, unfortunately, lost the final match and finished the season with silver medals.
Even though I had a chance to experience these great things in basketball I do not want to underestimate the importance of school life since through the school I met so many new people and made very good friends. I also found most of the courses interesting and helpful for the future and it was also eye-opening to see different teaching approaches.
Last year was really strengthening my idea that when you have a good motivation and enthusiasm to experience new things and get out of the comfort zone many unexpected good things can happen. The only way to reach something new is to leave behind the conventional and break the mould.
In the beginning of the summer 2016 I moved back to Finland since it was time to start my internship in the fall. At the moment I am finishing my internship period in dSign Vertti Kivi & Co where I am working in the international sales team.
I want to wish all the teachers and students of Metropolia a very prosperous 2017.