Did you know that the original purpose of OLL was to organise academic championships for universities in Helsinki? The history of our Federation goes all the way back to the 1920s. The founding members were the University of Helsinki Sports Club (HYUS), the Student Union of Helsinki School of Economics (KY), the engineering students’ sports club (PUS), the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY) and the student gymnasts’ club (Ylioppilasvoimistelijat).

The Federation was founded in 1924 under the name the Finnish Academic Sports Federation (Suomen Akateeminen Urheiluliitto, SAUL).

In 1971 the name was changed to the Finnish Student Sports Federation (Opiskelijoiden Liikuntaliitto). Around the time of the name change, student unions and the student councils of institutes began joining OLL. In the 1990s the membership base changed when the institutes’ student councils were replaced by the student unions of universities of applied sciences.

In 2008 the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK) joined OLL. SYL left OLL in 2013, and SAMOK followed in 2018. Since the national umbrella organisations had left the Federation most student unions have rejoined OLL.

In the 1970s the Federation expanded its activities from organising competitions to influencing sports policy.

The Federation gave statements and drew up programmes on exercise at work, traffic policy and competitive sports, among other topics. At the end of the decade the Federation’s work became focused on the “physical design of universities”, i.e. campuses which promote physical activity. This is still the main focus of our work.

In the 1980s, the work was particularly focused on improving university sports services.

There was also a strong emphasis on supporting our member organisations in their work.

In the 1990s the Federation had a particularly visible role in training local student activists.

The Federation organised workshops for those who were in charge of sports in the student organisations within the member organisations. The main emphasis in the Federation’s work was still on lobbying, but improving services gained a stronger position.

As well as the lobbying work, OLL also began focusing on research and promoting holistic physical activity at the start of the 21st century.

The research and activities led to the creation of the Recommendations for university sports.

2015 brought on a big change to the work of our Federation as the responsibility for student high-performance sports was transferred from OLL to the Finnish Olympic Committee. Meanwhile the Finnish Student Championships have remained as part of OLL’s work all the way into the 2020s. Hence the Federation’s nearly one-hundred-year-old roots in organising academic championships still have a strong presence in the daily work of the Federation.