Baku, June 18, AZERTAC
There is no chance of Finland's volleyball men letting their hair down to celebrate a victory - because most of them now don't have any.
After beating Azerbaijan 3-2 in their opening match at Crystal Hall 1, ten of the 12-man Finnish squad turned up with their heads shaven for Tuesday's match against France, which they lost 3-0.
But it had nothing to do with the rising temperatures in Azerbaijan. The bald fact about the mass haircut is that it is part of a sporting ritual in Finland.
“It is a tradition in our country that when you are playing your first game for the national team then the players shave your head," Aleksi Mutka said.
“I had my first match last summer so I had it done then. The players don’t like it but it increases our team spirit and it’s getting better. It’s a tradition so everybody gets on with it."
“When I got shaved there were 10 players laughing and it was like a show for everyone.”
Captain Toni Kankaanpaa cast his mind back to 2004 when he made his debut for the national team.
“I was a young boy and there were no options, you just did it," Kankaanpaa said. "I don’t think it’s embarrassing. It’s part of being in the group so it’s important for everybody to get their first touch of the national team," even, it seems, if that touch is from an electric shaver.
"All the players are pretty happy about it (being done). Aleksi and I were shaving the heads of the other guys (here in Baku) so it was a lot of fun."
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