Niko Jusi - semi-professional linesman and warehouse worker

Niko Jusi works in the Finnish Hockey League as a linesman and as a warehouse worker at Logistikas.

Rauma-based Niko Jusi is living his dream as a linesman in the Finnish Hockey League. He was involved in the spring 2022 league final series, but the goals are even higher. Without a flexible employment contract with Logistikas, semi-professionalism on ice would not be possible.

Ice hockey is the most watched sport in Finland. Often, the players take the most attention, but in order for the matches to go through, it also requires the competent judges to do so. One of the league's linesman is Niko Jusi from Rauma, for whom the season 2021-22 was the fifth season of his career at the Finnish main league level. Jusi, who whistles with number 74 in his jersey, has been the line referee so far in 205 League matches.

The road to becoming a judge began as a young man ended his own hockey hobby. Jusi attended a junior judge course held by an experienced referee ja linesman Seppo Lindroos.

”That course was a turning point, because that's when the work of judges started to fascinate me. I realized that the career path as a hockey player is not for me, but as a judge I would have an opportunity to work on a sport that is important to me and aim for the top all the way from the Finnish League Finals to the Olympic Finals.”, says Jusi

Before reaching the highest league level in the country, he worked in matches for various junior age groups and the Finland's second highest level Mestis, among others. However, the trip to the League level was faster than average, as after just one Mestis season, he got a call from the League.

”Through the test camps, I first got to whistle at the traditional Pitsiturnaus in Rauma, after which I was informed that I would get to the League with a try out contract. Try out went through and here I am. This is the continuous development and maintenance of your own skills. It is a professional sport, so the judge must know the rules carefully and be in good physical shape.”

Thanks to an individual employment contract, Jusi can fully invest in the work of a linesman during the hockey season.

Experience helps to process feedback

In any sport, judges sometimes get pretty harsh feedback from the public – sometimes for a reason, sometimes without a reason. Jusi emphasizes that it is not the job of the referees to be in the spotlight but to serve the game, as the outcome is up to the players to decide.

”Acting as a judge requires some kind of madness. I could invest in my life even for study or hobbies, but I want to be involved in ice hockey. This is travel work, and when you drive on those winter roads at night and arrange civilian work according to the match schedule, it requires a lot. In return, this gives me unique experiences”, Jusi says.

With experience, you will learn to handle different types of feedback better.

”At first, the audience’s comments felt really bad, I thought about them even the next morning. I wondered if I was really such a bad dude. Nowadays, I don't even hear individual shouts from the crowd, and if I do,I don't register them. Matches are always reviewed with the referees and referees after the game, and that’s one important way to deal with these issues.”

Linesman work and warehouse work are both continuous development and maintenance of one's own skills.

With the help of logistics towards dreams

In Finland, only a few referees work full-time in ice hockey. Others work somewhere else as full time or they study. Combining semi-professionalism with daytime work is not always an easy equation, especially when you have to be at a high level every night.

”Also referees must prepare 100% for each game. There are certain routines that need to be followed. In fact, on the morning of the game day, I always do a certain workout, eat and sleep. We go to the arena well in advance a couple of hours before the start of the match”, Jusi explains.

The work situation is exceptionally good for him, as the man has been working at Logistikas since 2017 on the basis of which the matches determine employment. He started at the Lakari logistics center and is now in his third year at the Olkiluoto unit in the tool warehouse.

”Frankly, Logistikas enables me to be a semi-professional linesman in the League. My employment contract is made in such a way that I can invest fully in my work as a linesman, especially during the season. The matches determine how I work in the Olkiluoto unit and when I am on a game trip.”

”I am very grateful for such an opportunity to make my dream come true. My co-workers understand this situation and the employer is flexible. Sometimes there are four games a week, so at some point I have to rest too, and this is really well understood by the employer.”

The dream mentioned earlier has not yet reached its end point.

”I'm trying to divide my career path. The Finnish Hockey League is very important to me and I am now focusing on doing things there in every match in the best possible way. Only through that can I one day advance in my career. In the league, the goal is to get to whistle in the final match”, Jusi says.

"Logistikas enables me to be a semi-professional as a line judge in the Finnish Hockey League."

"The international path is separate, and the goal there is the Olympics and the World Cup. At some point there will also be a path as a referee, but before that I want to achieve certain things that need to be worked hard on.”