While the majority of people in The United States haven’t heard of Floorball, its only a matter of time before the sport really catches on.
When people do witness Floorball for the first time, they see it initially as a substitute to the floor hockey they grew up playing on elementary school. While on some levels that may be true the sport is significantly different on many levels. Back in the early 2000’s even less people knew about the sport. In the beginning, and still to this day floorball has been a grassroots sport. If you were lucky you would find a group of people who had moved into your community from overseas who knew how to play. While more people are catching on to the sport it’s still currently building off of this model. There are more clubs and groups forming slowly, but the USA’s ability to compete on a national stage is somewhat limited.
The USA Floorball Association is the governing body for international competition recognized by the International Floorball Federation. The USA team is comprised of Men and Women, and U19 Men and Women. Currently the national team is comprised of foreign based players based outside of the US. The majority of players come out of Sweden, Switzerland, and a small handful from the US. Frankly the US is fortunate to have an organization and people within it that have helped push the sport along largely unnoticed. The US team has competed in several World Championships with the highest ranking of 10 as well as representing the US in the World Games 2017.
Needless to say given the history of the sport and the development stateside it’s amazing what’s been done so far. However, for the longevity of the national team there needs to be more development stateside, specifically an emphasis on youth. The USA wouldn’t be in its current position without relying on players overseas, but that model can’t be sustained. When you think about the 2016 World Floorball Championships the team that won its group stage, almost beat Germany, and ultimately qualified for the World Games, that group of players rarely trains together on a regular basis when compared to just about every other country. What they do have going for them is that many play on teams throughout the year. What the US needs is to build a development system stateside in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world.
The biggest question is what will that look like? USA Floorball doesn’t have the same financial support from the government, or currently outside organization. They have put on smaller development training sessions, but they’re limited. Once a year isn’t going to cut it in the long term. Thankfully though the sport is catching on and more and more teams and clubs are starting to pop up around the country. One day it’s very likely that the USA team will be fielded primarily of US based players. I hope that as the sport moves forward people understand and appreciate the ground work that has been laid out from the players and staff that came before them.