To the Top while Studying

13.10.2022 8.52Updated: 3.3.2023 8.44
Jalkapalloilija Maija Koota edustaa HJK:ta. Koota opiskelee Leppävaaran lukion urheilulinjalla.

Maija Koota is a football goalkeeper in HJK and a second-year student in the sports programme at Leppävaara General Upper Secondary School. She combines sport and her studies, aiming to graduate in three years while striving to get as high as possible in football.

Maija began her extensive career in football at the age of five at a football school, encouraged by a friend, and over the following few years, it became a particularly important hobby for her. Maija played for Espoon Palloseura for 10 years, until she joined Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi, HJK, in 2019. Soon after, the team won the Finnish Youth B Women’s League Championships. Maija played her first matches for the national team last year and is planning to continue her football career abroad once she has completed her studies. Sport comes first to Maija, who describes herself as determined and unyielding.

Maija began to prepare for her matriculation examinations during her second year in the general upper secondary school, and she aims to succeed in both her studies and sport. She has also considered her future study options that focus on sports and exercise. Studying at a general upper secondary school was a long-held dream for her, and being accepted to a sports programme was her top priority. She trains up to seven times a week, and matches take place every weekend. Maija feels that combining sport and studies has been easy and flexible in Leppävaara.

Athletes are trusted here

Maija gives praise to the facilities at her school and the fact that the school takes the athletes’ side. It would be impossible to do sports and study simultaneously without flexible scheduling. She goes to Helsinki every day to train with her club, but her school also offers training to those who want it, and Maija has completed a mental training course through her school, among other things.

Because athletes spend so much time on sports, the school takes this into account when assessing their progress. Athletes are therefore awarded a total of 15 study credits for morning training sessions during their general upper secondary studies. However, studies and daily training sessions have an impact on the individuals’ energy levels, which is why Maija highlights the importance of sleep.

HJK uses a hybrid academy model, which promotes an athlete’s double career throughout their studies towards the top. During the week, training takes place three times in the mornings and four or five times in the evenings. Students go to training straight after school, and the sessions end by six at the latest, which leaves more time for studying. Focusing on becoming a top athlete is easier without excess stress from studies and cumbersome additional homework, and Leppävaara has taken this fact onboard. Well-thought-out and flexible timetables allow Maija to focus alternately on both of her ambitions: school and top-level sports.


Text by Roosa Koivisto.

  • General Upper Secondary Education
  • Growth and Learning
  • Leppävaaran lukio