By ARJA LIINAMAA
Photo ARJA LIINAMAA
Athlete’s Culture and
The master’s degree programme in ow do competitive Finnish swim- develop alongside that of competitors with-
mers adjust to the training envi- out disabilities? What factors make an envi-
sports psychology, coordinated by the ronment at a camp in Australia? ronment motivating for athletes or fitness
University of Jyväskylä’s Department And to Australia’s culture? exercisers?
of Sport Sciences, has received And is a woman who goes in for judo Dr Tatiana Ryba, senior lecturer in the
in Greece a cause for wonder? And what Jyväskylä sports psychology programme,
coveted Erasmus Mundus status. sort of opportunities do Malaysian Muslim states that, for sports psychologists, science
women have for exercising? How does the can actually act as a means of improving
self-esteem of exercisers with disabilities the world.
“Internationalization has meant that the sports psychology field also has reason to react sensitively to the impact of cultures,”
says Dr Tatiana Ryba, senior lecturer in the Jyväskylä sports psychology programme.
Kwog Ng is in his second year of study in the Jyväskylä programme. The possibility of incorporating a practicum into his
course of study was a big reason for his desire to study in Finland specifically.
”Social impact is an important element Commission to enhance the attractiveness
of our work,” says the native of Latvia. ”The of European education globally and pro-
scientific field helps us to understand the mote intercultural dialogue.
sports and exercise activity of various ”Erasmus Mundus is a funding programme
groups, and doesn’t adhere to the stereo- much sought after and much competed
type of the white male American as a basic
”In England, China or Russia, for instance,
for,” says Prof. Taru Lintunen, international
programme coordinator at the University
of Jyväskylä’s Department of Sport Science.
the cultures are different and people pre-
sumably have different experiences with
exercise and sports. Internationalization
”Only a few master’s programmes in Europe
gain admission to it. The European Com-
mission selects high-quality, pan-European
– the advent of the EU, for example – has
meant that the sports psychology field also
has reason to react sensitively to the impact
master’s programmes for funding, and those
programmes are awarded five years of sup-
port for administrative expenses and for sti-
Ryba’s field research project concerns
Finnish swimmers. Greek judoka Anna Ka-
pends to be given to visiting teachers and
top students from both Europe and coun-
tries outside Europe.”
voura is studying Greek judo practitioners.
England’s Kwog Ng, whose family is from • Part of Erasmus Mundus
China, is studying sitting volleyball. An In- A fine opportunity
dian, Anaurene Roy, is researching exercise programme, which guarantees
among Muslim women. Finland’s Heidi Pasi Ng is in his second year of study in the students excellent instruction
is studying motivation. Kavoura, Ng and Roy Jyväskylä programme. His final term will as international researchers and
are in the master’s programme; Pasi has pro- come in the spring of 2010, when he will
gressed to doctoral studies. study in Trikala, Greece, at the University of guarantees staff plenty of working
Thessaly. trips to lecture on the topics of
Ng represents one of the programme’s their research at other universities
A growing field internationally exceptional cases, since he has a degree in
the field of mathematics and statistics, and in Europe.
In December 2008, the University of Jyväs- has studied sports science less.
kylä’s Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences ”My working life has however been in • Students from Finland, Germany,
signed an agreement whereby students in sports and exercise since 2002, the year
the master’s programme can study at, and I graduated,” the former volleyball com- Greece, Latvia, South Korea,
receive degrees from, universities in two petitor says. ”I’ve worked for example as England, India, Belarus, Estonia,
countries. The agreement was concluded a coach and biomechanics expert, and in Canada and the United States.
with the Department of Psychology at the various tasks, such as personal trainer, at fit-
University of Lund, Sweden; the Faculty of ness centres.” In addition to background
Sports Science at the University of Leipzig, The possibility of incorporating a practi- studies, the selection of students
Germany; and the Department of Physical cum into his master’s programme repre- emphasizes motivation, as well as
Education and Sport Science at the Uni- sented a big reason behind his desire to
versity of Thessaly, Greece. The language of come specifically to Finland to study sports work experience or engagement
study is English. psychology. in sports and exercise.
Because those entering the programme ”For me it’s important to get to apply
have already completed a bachelor’s degree theory and knowledge to practical activity,”
in sports science, psychology or social psy- he continues. ”It’s good to get to be part of • The consortium chooses 24 new
chology, their studies leading to the master’s the ’real world’ while you’re still a student. students yearly. The students are
degree last about two years. If the degree If and when you make mistakes, you can placed at three home universities,
is being completed as a double degree, the benefit from them in your own learning
student travels to the second university to process.” i.e. in Jyväskylä, Lund and Trikala.
study for one term. The practicum consists of 240 hours. Ng
In the summer of 2009, Ryba received the completed it by teaching children volley- • The programme is research-
International Society of Sport Psychology’s ball, and now he’s doing his diploma project
Developing Scholar Award. The honour is with the national sitting volleyball team. Sit- based, so that students acquire
accorded annually to a sports psychology ting volleyball demands coordination and a strong research foundation and
researcher for his or her contribution to strength from the central and upper torso, can continue for example with
superior research and scientific activity. and is equally suited to athletes with and
”The prize was a great honour to me, without disabilities. doctoral studies. The practicum,
although I don’t have a lot of time to think ”It’s also nice in general to get to be part which provides qualifications for
about it,” she smiles. ”It’s nice that the rec- of this programme and get to know stu- sports psychology practice, does
ognition was given this time to a researcher dents from different parts of the world,” he
who’s at such an early stage. It encourages continues. ”It creates a forum that will ben- however constitute a key element
one to study diligently.” efit everyone a lot in their future working of the studies.
lives, whether as researchers or practical
Incorporated into • In their practicums, the students
Erasmus Mundus programme work, under guidance, with
athletes or fitness exercisers.
Those working and studying in the master’s
programme had cause to raise their glasses For example, they arrange
again in August 2009: the programme was interventions and teach
accepted into the Erasmus Mundus pro- psychological skills.
gramme, which is funded by the European
M o t i o n – S p o r t i n F i n l a n d 2 / 2 0 0 9