The pilgrimage of more than 6,000 Finnish fans to the Martín Carpena Sports Palace became the symbol of the success of the Davis Cup for the public and recalled the communicating vessels between Finland and Malaga, where the Los Pacos neighborhood of Fuengirola is concentrated. the largest Finnish colony in Spain.
Finland’s Davis Cup dream faded in the semi-finals, where Australia took the tie without fail (2-0). But getting into the top four in the world is already a historic milestone for the Finnish community, as they have never achieved it before.
Thousands of people wanted to witness this sporting feat. Without stopping to encourage any of the players who performed on the court (Emil Ruusuvuori, Patrick Kaukovalta, Otto Virtanen for three times and Harri Heliovaara), Carpena seemed at times to be located in Helsinki instead of Malaga.
Thousands of fans of all ages enjoyed elite tennis, dressed in white and blue t-shirts, Finnish flags and posters, hats and scarves and, in a section of the entertainment stands, the presence of a tirelessly loud bass drum.
Not all of them belonged to the colony, as around 2,500 of those present arrived by direct flight from Finland. On Tuesday night, after the pass to the semifinals was certified, the demand for Norwegian airline tickets to Malaga suddenly increased.
Why were there so many thousands of Finns? This great presence has an explanation. There are 6,635 Finns living in Malaga, according to data from the municipal register as of January 2022, of which there are 4,657 in Fuengirola. This is just over 13% of the total population and the majority are residents of the Los Pacos neighborhood, the nerve center of the neighborhood.
Although the statistics only count registered people, so the exact population can actually triple if citizens with second homes or regular visitors are added. Years before the pandemic, according to municipal political sources, the population was around 25,000 inhabitants.
In Los Pacos they have restaurants and shops with signs in their language, access to local newspapers and publications, they get informed with the news in Finnish by tuning in to the television or listening to the radio and, for added curiosity, the only Finnish school is also located in the neighborhood. from all over Spain. There are only six of these Finnish centers outside the country and Fuengirola is one of them.
The origin of this colony dates back to the seventies, when Teuvo Raimo Hakulinen was a visionary and created the Permanent Athlete Training Center in said area. Six medalists in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games emerged from those facilities.
The popularity of Fuengirola for Finns began to grow since then and now it is a paradise to retire, retire or live a new life close to the climate and quality of life of the Costa del Sol.
The Davis Cup has been a meeting point for those of Nordic origin and a window to the rest of the city and the public, who have seen first-hand the commitment of the Finns to their army of tennis players, although Australia and an average Australian Spaniard, Álex de Miñaur, stood in their paths.
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