Interview: Enni Kukka-Tuomala

The term is in full swing, with students flocking to the university sports clubs, and if the teams can match the energy of Sports Federation president Enni-Kukka Tuomala, expect a record year of wins. Enni left her busy office to talk about her role in preparing for the new term and why she loves her job.  “I’m the elected contact for any sports issue and club contact’s my biggest job, so the main thing I do is represent students in all matters sport,” she said. “The whole reason for the Sport Federation’s existence is to provide a central permanent office to develop student sport and to help students run the sports the best they can, It’s fantastic to have an office that manages sports and we try to encourage people, both students and clubs, to knock on our door. When things run well for the clubs, they can hopefully get great results.”

Enni began her work soon after she left university and is now involved in a seemingly never-ending list of activities. “ I had two weeks off to go home to Finland after the end of term before I started work, then from mid July onwards it was all about catching up and learning the ropes and preparing for the new year before the students got back,” she said. I now sit on the University Sport Strategy Committee, the Oxfordshire Sport Council, and chair the Oxford University Sports Federation Sports Council and Executive Committee. It’s very hectic, especially right now, and there’s so much going on, but I love every moment.” One of her current projects is an annual sports review, which recaps last year with varsity results and small news stories.  “The review mainly comes out as online e-magazine to save paper and is sent out to alumni, and current students should have a read through it as well,” Enni said. “This year we’ll interview Oxford alumni and Olympic gold medallist basketball player Bill Bradley, who studied here as a Rhodes Scholar in the ‘60s.” Behind Enni, the Iffley Road sports complex is  brimming with people. University sports  are popular, and Enni hopes to maintain the university’s high standard in athletic competitions around the UK.  “Admission to  the University of Oxford is purely academic; you cannot get in on sports merits,” she said.  “With that in mind, for the past two  years, the university has finished eighth overall in BUCS among UK universities, and that’s absolutely fantastic. “I think it’s because the university attracts people who are high-achieving on all levels, and that’s something we really want to nurture.” The University Sports Club is home to 84 sports, ranging from “classic” activities such as football and encompassing more exotic exercises like gliding and sulkido.

A keen basketball player, Enni is currently on the University women’s basketball team. “I came to basketball tryouts and got picked for the university team, so this is my fourth year on the Blues Squad,” she said. “I played in Finland for a long time – it’s sort of a family thing – and then I played when I lived in Australia as well.” Though while  basketball is her primary interest, Enni wants to try other sports to get first-hand knowledge. “I try to get out there to try different sports I haven’t tried before,” she said. “The boxing club has already invited me and I also plan to try Octopush, a form of underwater hockey. “I don’t think I’ll be able to try all 84 sports, but I’ll definitely try as many as I can. “I think it’s really important to meet the clubs and see what they do, to get a better understanding.” Before moving to the UK, Enni left Finland for a year as an exchange student in Australia and then headed for Oxford to pursue her passion for history.

“I wanted to study something that interested me, but I’ve always been really interested in all subjects,” Enni laughed. “I’ve always been very interested in history and I wanted to go abroad to study, and I now have a BA in classical archaeology and ancient history. “But sports will always be part of my life and will always be factored into what I do.”