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FC Nations United, 1972-2004
Speech about the history of FC Nations United given at the Taste of Africa party, 2.7.2004
Welcome to the FC Nations United evening or perhaps I should say weekend, for you might come to the football tournament we have organized for tomorrow as well. My name is Raymond Bertram and since the beginning of this year, I am the chairman of the club. I want to say a few words on the history of FC Nations United in combination with my own experiences and feelings wrt NU and also on the events we organize this weekend.

FC Nations United is a funny club. From the outside it might sometimes seem that there is not much structure, that people come and go, that there are quite a number of quarrels or differences of opinion, esp. on the field, and all kind of other problems. Now, even when looking at it from the inside, I can tell you there is certainly some truth in that. But the fact the FC Nations United already exists for more than 32 years also implies that there has been some kind of organization and some kind of consistency over the years with the people involved, and also, that club members are not always quarrelling, especially not when they are off the field.

Raymond Bertram

According to the legends, the team was founded out of university students in 1972 and got its name in a friendly game against Littoinen. The referee asked the captain for the name of the team, somebody said United Nations, another said that may be confusing, a third said then we coin it Nations United and from there it left. Up till 1992, the team played friendly games among each other, against some Finnish league teams, but also against other hobby teams like the Wiklund dept. In 1992, the team was allowed to enter the Finnish league (which it was first denied due to the abundance of foreigners) and they started in the 6th division. They promoted twice in a row to the 4th division and got stuck there. The reason for this was that FC NU was not allowed to go up to the 3rd division, that is, there were too many foreigners that had lived less than 5 years in Finland, which was required to play 3rd division; we flatter ourselves with the thought that this was the only reason. Nowadays we are playing with the senior team in the 5th division (breakdown of 4th division last year), but we made it to the ylempi sarja this year and hope to get back to the 4th division next year. Apart from the senior team, we founded a junior team that played in the league between 1997-2001 (in 2000, 2 teams). Every year the team improved, it started with a 27-0 defeat against Inter and it ended with the first place in alkusarja and good performances in the ylempi sarja against e.g. TPS, Inter, Tuto, TPK, after which almost all players disappeared to these bigger teams and we had to quit.

When it comes to consistency over the years, a red threat in the FC NU history is Ghanalainen Paul NíKegbe, who was one of the founders in 1972 and has been with the team ever since. He subscribed the team in 1992 for the league, collecting many players in a very short time, has been trainer coach and chair man, was one of the founders of the youth team, and has been the face of our team for 32 years now. I came to the team in 1996 and even though I have seen many players coming and going, upon my arrival there were already Dudu, Faisal, Jatta and Tomi and very soon after that came Andy, Toni, Pepe, Taoufik and Gazwan, all of them still playing in our team. Personally, the team has been very important for me, for I gained a lot of friends through Nations United and it helped me very much to settle down in the Finnish society. I know this is and has been the case for many other people as well. For me, this is the main function of Nations United, and football, even though we take it kind of serious and we feel better when we get good results and play well, is just the means to achieve it. I am happy to notice that a lot of foreigners in Turku, almost all I would say, know FC Nations United, and identify with it. I am happy that many of them feel welcome
Paul Nelson Nkegbe
to our trainings, games and other activities. I truly think that FC Nations United is more than a football club and therefore I hope that we will continue for many years to come. I am also happy that there is a strong link with the Finnish society. As long as I play, we have had Finnish players in our team. Tomi has been our chairman for many years, we have had practice games and tournaments with Finnish teams, we have been helped by all kind of Finnish institutions, and most of all, even though pigeon English is our main language of communication, there is often also a very interesting kind of Finnish communicated between our players, I believe even that some players might have developed their Finnish in some kind of funny way through our team.

Some personal memories. Referees. They are always against us. Itís the main reason we are playing so low. Beginning of this season, we got four red cards in a row. All unjustified. We never talk to referees, donít practice African karate kicks, never tackle from behind, never practice jšlkipeli, this in shrill contrasts to the opponent teams. Still, they penalize us. Well, this is not true of course. Still it is in our collective memory that a referee disallowed a goal that was shot with enormous power in a straight line, because of a hole in the upper part of the net (thanks to which we missed the ylempi sarja); that a referee broke the record when we were leading with 3-1 to give 17 minutes extra time in the 2nd half, a penalty to the opponent as well as 2 red cards for nothing. He was crying when he had to blow the final whistle at 3-2. This season, for the 1st time in his life, Dudu scores from a phantastic free kick, 30 meters from the goal. The referee disallows it because somebody about 50 meters away from the situation was standing off-side. (Ruud van Nistelrooy would have no life here). Therefore we are sometimes left with a slight taste of being treated unfairly.

Finally about the festivities still, it has always been that we are tight in money, not all foreigners have so much of that. This is one of the reasons we keep these festivities this weekend. Another is that we think it is good promotion for us, and that it will help more foreigners and Finns alike to find the way to our team. The main reason, however, is that we hope many people will enjoy the events we organized. So welcome to the football tournament, that starts at 12 tomorrow in Urheilupuisto, and welcome to tonightís party. You can get excellent food over there, made by Hagos, our pr-man. At 19.00 we start with some football games, at 20 Hagos, shows us how to dance ethnically, at 21 Tommyboy starts his funky house vibes and it will be hard to resist to dance on them. So, once more, welcome to you all and have fun!!!