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Last weekend, for the derby against HJK, HIFK received three visitors from Denmark. Three representatives from Vejle Boldklub travelled to Helsinki to familiarize themselves with HIFK:s organization and staff. We met up with Jacob Krüger, technical director for Vejle BK, to have a chat about the co-operation between the two clubs.

– During the last six months we’ve been working together with HIFK a lot, and we’ve had multiple players on loan here in Helsinki. It’s nice to be able to come here, see a match, and meet all the people who we usually just communicate with via email or phone. It’s very interesting to be here and see how you operate, technical director Krüger told HIFK:s media.

The co-operation between the clubs started last year, with a couple of Vejle BK:s players being loaned out to HIFK. Of the current HIFK squad three players are currently on loan from the Danish club – Luís Henrique, Adama Fofana and João “Vitinho” Souza. A deepened co-ooperation between the club means a larger spectrum of possibilities for players of both teams. One of the advantages of the co-operation, according to Krüger, is the ability to offer players an appropriate environment and challenge, depending on their current level of development.

Jacob Krüger, technical director for Vejle BK, on the left in the picture.

– We’ve seen the benefits of this co-operation in many ways already, but probably most prominently through the fact that we can offer our players more playing time at a good level. Adding the fact that HIFK has an agreement with MyPa to that, we can be certain that our players will be able to get time on the pitch and develop their skills. And it works both ways. We, ourselves, have an agreement with a team from the same city as us, that functions as our reserves. This means there’s a possibility of getting playing time from us as well, Krüger commented.

Krüger believes that the increased dialogue between the management of both clubs might lead to new possibilities, including co-operation with youth academies. He says that there are many areas where HIFK and Vejle BK could learn from each other and create better conditions for youth team players to succeed.

– I’m sure our co-operation will grow and develop in the future. We both have a lot of similar areas of operation, that could gain from sharing knowledge and experiences. In Vejle we have one of the best youth academies in all of Denmark, and I know that HIFK are working hard to develop their own youth teams. So that’s something that we could advise HIFK on.

HIFK Fotbolls sports director Mika Lönnström has also been pleased with the co-operation. He tells us that discussions with Vejle BK are held multiple times per week. In these discussions, information regarding potential new signings are often traded, which is something both teams have benefited from, as they now have a larger scouting network and a better understanding of what kind of players the market has to offer.

– The co-operation is of course very important for us and we see many areas where we can benefit from it. One of them is the exchange of information regarding players. Due to the geographical location of Finland, our knowledge of the players in central Europe is maybe a bit restricted. We tend to focus our scouting more on players in Finland and in other Nordic countries. Vejle BK, then again, have a larger network and a better understanding of what kind of players are available in central Europe. Through this co-operation we can share this information and identify possible additions for the respective clubs first team squads.

Mika Lönnström, sports director for HIFK.

As the co-operation grows, HIFK and Vejle BK plan to organize seminars in the future, so that key personnel in both clubs could meet up, get to know each other better and share ideas and knowledge. According to Lönnström a flexible link to Vejle BK could be a factor in raising HIFK’s status on the player market.

– Thanks to our co-operation with Vejle BK we’ve been able to hold on to two players from last year’s squad. Joel Mattsson’s and Luís Henrique’s performances during last season were noted by a lot of larger clubs around Europe. This, of course, is great, but that also meant that without the help and co-operation of Vejle BK, we would not have been able to keep them in HIFK for another year. I think that this has been a good example of how we can help young players. That HIFK is a good alternative if you want to develop and if you succeed here you can easily take the next step in your career and move to bigger leagues, said Lönnström.