If you didn’t know The World Games are coming to the United States, specifically Alabama, in 2021. If you haven’t heard of the World Games they are an international competition comprised of a variety of sports in what is more or less a proving ground and pathway to a sport potentially being added to the Olympics. I liken it to the NIT of the NCAA, which is not a slight to either, but a way to correlate the two in how they function. To give a brief history, Floorball has been part of The World Games in the past. It has been a demo sport in Asia, and in 2017 The World Games were hosted in Poland, and Floorball was included in that event. The 2017 games were a huge success for Floorball, but the long term goal is to be in the Olympics. In 2021 Floorball will again showcase the best it has to offer in the hopes of being added to the 2024 or 2028 Olympics. Being part of The World Games 2021 in the U.S. is a great step forward to exposing North American to the sport on a big stage. While the competition proves to be great the ground work leading up to the games matters far more in the long term development, especially in North America.
Floorball in North America is largely a grassroots movement. While the U.S. and Canada have National Team programs with various leagues around the continent it still relatively unknown as a sport. The World Games could change that in a big way, but only if the marketing and promotion leading up to the event is done effectively. The trap we could fall into is going out and “selling” the sport without providing the necessary resources and support for new players and programs to flourish and continue to play the sport after the hype of The World Games is gone. We need to be thinking long term about how as a community we are going to help each other be successful. Floorball in it’s current stage in the U.S. is not basketball, soccer, or baseball. We don’t have the same resources and continuity that other sports have, but the potential is there.
I feel that the focus should be on education and development, specifically in schools. We need kids playing the sport, and excited about it as a viable sporting option. We need to train physical education teachers and recreation leaders how to play the sport, and get excited about the sport. Our youth are vital to long term sustained growth as a sport. Too often we focus on the adults, which is great, and needed. However, if Floorball is to grow and be a foothold in the sporting landscape youth development is key. We need demos, classes, educational resources, training, leagues, events, all geared towards showing how fun Floorball is. The technical side will come in time, but we need to grab people’s attention, and the best way to do that is to keep it fun. Developing tournaments and leagues for the sake of having them doesn’t solve the problem if we don’t focus on building a solid base. If we do this right the benefits and vision that so many have for this sport will have a much better chance of coming to fruition. We have to work together, but we have to be focused on the same goal.
The Floorball community, especially in the U.S. has a unique opportunity in hosting such a marquee event that we need to make sure and capitalize on it while we can. The ground work that is laid over the next 3 years will shape how the landscape of Floorball looks in the U.S., and I hope that as a community those involved in Floorball can band together to make it a success. As we push forward I hope that this is a tipping point to pushing Floorball further as a sport.