Professor Risto Telama was born in Carelia, Finland August 1st, 1936. Risto was active in different sports and commenced his sequence of studies in Helsinki: first Physical Education teaching, followed by psychology and human sciences. He graduated as PE teacher in 1959 and subsequently began his journey as a researcher in 1965. He became the first PhD in Sport Science in Finland defending his doctoral dissertation in 1972. The topic of his doctoral dissertation was Students’ Physical Activity and Participation in Organized Sport. He was interested in engaging in high quality research and searched for international collaborations. Only three years later, in 1975, he participated in his first AIESEP meeting. Since that initial meeting, AIESEP had found a place in both his heart and his mind. Within the AIESEP family, Risto enjoyed an environment that allowed him to undertake high quality research, while also receiving strong academic support.
Risto participated in AIESEP events and represented the University of Jyväskylä, Faculty of Sport Sciences for many decades. He served AIESEP as board member across two decades: from 1982 until 1998, all together 4 consecutive terms. He organized the first AIESEP congress in Finland in 1982 and the second in 1989. The staff members at his university were attracted by the friendly atmosphere and the international environment created within AIESEP. More and more Finnish delegates attended congresses and continued his work by also serving as a board members. Because of his important contribution and status, Finnish PE teacher education students were honored to enjoy several international visiting professor’s lectures at the University of Jyväskylä. Significant and notable visitors included Muska Mosston and Sara Ashworth. Their passionate teaching about the Spectrum of Teaching Styles has influenced, and is still influencing the pedagogical choices of Finnish PETE students and PE teachers. Risto taught us about holistic thinking, he also wanted us to teach by incorporating a focus on ethical thinking and respect. PE teachers and researchers have greatly benefitted by his high moral code.
Risto passed away November 14, 2022. There are so many international and Finnish colleagues who will miss our highly devoted professor and teacher.