Across the board, sports and their organizations build to run them are interesting facets. Each one is built differently, operates differently, and while many have similar goals they all have a different outcome. If you’re new to Floorball one of the biggest events in the sport revolve around the World Floorball Championships. There are other tournaments such as the Champions Cup, and Euro Cup, though those competitions are focused around club teams. The WFC is routinely the most involved tournament in Floorball pulling in teams from all over the world. In its current format the WFC rotates between Men, Women, U19 Men, and U19 Women’s competitions. What exactly does it take to make it to the WFC competition?
Each Championship has guidelines pertaining qualification. The number of teams that qualify is based on the number of teams able to compete for qualification. This qualification is played regionally across the world and includes Europe, Asia and Oceania, and North/South America. Qualification requirements may vary depending on the number of teams available, as some regions don’t have enough competition, which means only one country may be represented as a result. For developing nations outside of Europe it can be a challenge as much of the world is still developing Floorball as a mainstream sport. For example, in North America historically there are 2-3 countries that compete, though it’s primarily a competition between the US and Canada. Hopefully as it grows we’ll see more development from Jamaica, Central and South America as well. Typically the qualifiers are played the year of the upcoming WFC, though it can vary depending on when the WFC dates are. Typically the Men/Women teams compete in Dec, while the U19 Men/Women compete in the spring.
The format currently in use breaks competing countries into either rankings from previous WFC competitions, and/or an A-B Division style tournament. Currently it seems the IFF is moving away from a A-B Division format from the U19 tournaments to be more consistent in play across all WFC formats.
If you’re new to the sport, Floorball skill level is varied among the teams. Given current and previous play there are some clear favorites in the sport. I’d break it down to having 5 countries hovering as the consistent top performers in the World and large chunk of teams in the middle jockeying for position, and up and coming teams, and developing countries on the bottom. The level of play from the top 5 countries is pretty phenomenal. A large reason for that disparity is that Floorball has been ingrained into the sports culture for generations. In many cases Floorball is State sponsored, or at least supported in some way financially. Through that development has spawned the top Floorball club leagues in the world. If you look at Sweden and Finland for instance as the top two countries they’ve been playing and developing the sport of over 30 years. It’s no wonder they remain atop the table every year.
One of the interesting things that’s happening, and will continue to happen, is that as more countries get involved in Floorball it will do a few things. First, it will help push the sport further in development. More countries involved equals more players involved, which ideally means more sponsors, recognition, and attention. If TV deals were part of the equation there’s a strong likelihood that the additional money would help propel things even further. In fact we’re starting to see more TV dedication for tournaments, including regional and local stations overseas, but also through the IOC’s own Olympic channel.
Secondly, as countries continue to develop we’ll likely see better overall competition, which in the end is the best thing that could happen to the sport. Viewers want to watch close competitive game. A great example of this was the 2017 Women’s WFC Final between Sweden and Finland. It was the perfect ending for the tournament because it has excitement and drama all the way to the end. While a heart break for Finland it showed exactly the type of match that the sport can deliver. If Floorball can bottle that emotion and energy and expand it Floorball will be able to show it belongs on the World’s largest stage.