Jussi Immonen to take charge in Finnish Wheelchair Rugby
Jussi Immonen is the new head coach of the Finnish Wheelchair Rugby National team. 35-year-old Immonen has a strong background from basketball coaching whereas Immonen’s new assistant coach Osku Kuutamo has experience from for example coaching the Finnish Wheelchair Curling team.
Finnish Sport Association of Persons with Disabilities (VAU) made a 4-year contract with Immonen and Kuutamo, reaching to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Immonen and Kuutamo replace Valtteri Lehtinen and Erkki Lämsä, who stepped aside after the 2015 European Championships in Pajulahti, Finland. Home team finished seventh in the Euros.
Immonen and Kuutamo are both currently working in the Pajulahti Sport Institute and VAU also started a long-term development project in Wheelchair Rugby in cooperation with Pajulahti.
Immonen’s last job as a basketball coach was as an assistant coach of the Finnish national league side Namika Lahti. Immonen has also been a head coach in for example Lapuan Korikobrat in the Finnish second tier and in St. Pölten Dragons in the Austrian Bundesliga.
– The roots of the Wheelchair Rugby are partly from basketball and there are some significant tactical similarities. I believe my background as a basketball coach will help me getting to know this sport better. A long-term project, good coaching team and international coaching environment are the things that inspire me in this job, Immonen says.
The aim of the new project is to take Finland to the Paralympic Games in Wheelchair Rugby for the first time in Tokyo 2020. Although Finland still stand a chance making it to the Rio Paralympics as well as they inherited Ireland’s spot in the six-team Paralympic qualification tournament played in Paris on 16.–22.4.
Finland will meet USA, France, Denmark, Germany and New Zealand in the qualification tournament. The top two teams from Paris gets tickets to Rio. Finnish Sport Association of Persons with Disabilities is still seeking for some consultant help for the new coach duo in their first international tournament.