How Finland’s leading football club is training virtually

HJK Helsinki is known as the leader among the Finnish professional football clubs. HJK has 3,500 athletes, ranging from youth participants to professional players. HJK also hosts summer camps for hundreds of children and has hundreds of supporting volunteers. In addition, HJK has nearly 350 coaches using their expertise to help people play football. UEFA has calculated that HJK’s activities create a social return of investment worth almost 36 million euros every year.

The challenge: offering accessible coach training in a digital format

One of HJK’s strategic goals is to offer quality training for football coaches and continuously develop their training. In Finland, HJK is the sports club that sets the example for others. Therefore, HJK’s management team decided to implement a digital learning environment to be able to offer quality coach training and maintain their status as a forerunner in Finnish football.

The COVID-19 pandemic kicked forward HJK’s plan to digitalise their learning materials since in person training was halted. In partnership with Valamis, HJK was able to transfer their entire coach training program into a digital format. Their new learning environment was launched in March 2021.

Before the launch of their new digital learning environment, HJK administered training in person. Once the in-person training events were concluded, the learning materials were sent as an email to coaches who had signed up for the training. However, one challenge in this process was that the coaches who had not signed up not only missed the training, but the learning materials that were sent afterwards as well. HJK also struggled from not having a centralised system of registered coaches and their system included various spreadsheets of registrants on local computers.

HJK had a strong vision of how their training and coach registry should look in a digital environment. Their vision included an easy-to-use platform, where the training materials could be saved and easily editable. HJK needed coaches to be able to learn on their own time if they were not able to attend the live-webinar training. HJK also needed a more organised video library for coaches to have easier access to learning materials. Finally, HJK wanted to gather the coaches’ skills and training history in one centralised location and use that as a tool to help coaches build their careers.

“In March 2020 we suddenly found ourselves in a situation where the traditional way of working for sports clubs was no longer possible. We looked into more than ten options for a digital learning platform, and finally ended up with Valamis because it fit our needs the best.”

Timo Muurinen, Executive Director, HJK Helsinki.

HJK chose Valamis Learning Experience Plaform (LXP) as their learning solution because Valamis was able to address the many challenges HJK faced with their previous system for coach training. Valamis LXP provided solutions to all of their training challenges and was the only one that made it possible to build a registry of coaches in an all-in-one solution.

The solution: adaptive learning platform helps the coaches to develop

HJK video library

Lesson studio makes adding content and keeping it up-to-date easy.

HJK now offers their coaches flexible training, in an easy-to-use platform, making it possible to learn at their convenience. In partnership with Valamis, HJK was able to train their heads of coaching to use the learning platform and can now support the coaches in their lifelong learning journey. Each head of coaching is responsible for creating training materials for a team of coaches and ensuring they stay current for their training. With Valamis’ built-in Lesson Studio, heads of coaching are able to easily create content and make sure content is up-to-date.

When a coach comes to the learning environment, they are offered materials from their library of videos that contains recordings from previous trainings.

HJK offers more and more options for training that can be accessed on the learner’s time through the video library.

Before introducing Valamis to all the users, HJK conducted a test of the learning platform with a small group of coaches. This group was able to become familiar with the learning materials and give feedback at the same time, while the heads of coaching learned to create and manage learning material and use the analytics feature in the platform.

The heads of coaching did not have previous experience in using digital learning platforms, but with the help of Valamis consultants, they are now able to leverage digital learning.

“Valamis has been an active partner in building a learning platform to meet our needs. We had a very strong vision of what the learning platform should be, and the consultants at Valamis helped us to modulate the platform and its features to fit our needs and look like our brand”.

-Emma Järvinen, Head of Coaching, HJK Helsinki

After the successful test run, the platform was introduced to the rest of the coaches. The new digital learning solution was introduced to the coaches with an introductory learning path along with a written guide on how to use the Valamis platform.

The results

The HJK coaches now have many more opportunities to take part in training with the use of Valamis. Before the introduction of Valamis, the same live training events had to be hosted annually. Now HJK can offer more options for training that can be accessed on the learner’s time. Training material can also be easily edited and updated.

“I started with spending half a day in the club’s new learning environment and getting to know the materials. I must say, I was impressed by Valamis!”
– Coach, HJK Helsinki

Coatch learning in digital learning platform

In the future, digital and live training are aligned

HJK has future plans to further develop their coach training program. For example, they plan to grow the number of courses available, and part of the training will be organised into learning paths in order to offer more structured learning. They also plan to move the coach onboarding training into the platform. HJK is eager to see the learning data grow as more coaches use the platform, as it will be a useful asset to develop the training.

“Sports are close to the hearts of many Valamisians and we are happy to work together with HJK. I am glad to be a partner in developing HJK’s training on Valamis and be one of the firsts in Finland to digitalise sports training.”
-Petri Räsänen, CCO, Valamis

Being a sports club, HJK is happy to be able to slowly reintroduce the live training, as Finland starts to reopen and roll back the pandemic safety regulations. However, the digital training will continue to be developed and utilised even when in-person training returns. HJK plans to record live trainings that can be viewed at a later time in Valamis’ learning solution.

For now, HJK uses digital training to train only the coaches, but head of coaching Järvinen thinks it is possible in the future that the digital training can be used by volunteers, team managers and players.

HJK Helsinki's Learning Platform

Talk to an expert

Book a 15 minute call with us to discuss how we can help connect the dots between learning and your business.

Talk to an expert