Maintaining a Positive Attitude

In the world of recreation and sports, yes they’re two different things, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to find and develop my passion.  At times that passion came across differently, or was hard to recognize at times.  Hard work in and of itself isn’t always fun, but it’s not meant to be.  For me I’ve always been intrigued by the process.  Starting something from nothing and building it.  Each place I’ve been or job I’ve worked I’ve always had that focus.  I guess in some ways you can call it having a vision, and through that vision taking the steps to build, fail, try again, fail, but continue to build.  You never know what’s around the corner, or what the next day will bring.

I’ve seen this play out many times, and while the outcome may not always be what I would like it to be it doesn’t stop me.  Starting a new sport, program, or event always carries with it the potential for failure.  Just because one year was a successful doesn’t mean the next will be.  You have to always work on it, build it, improve it, and learn from mistakes.  The key is to not learn from your failures and build on them, but keep going.

One of my passions is Floorball.  For whatever reason I’ve been hit with the Floorball bug.  I grew up playing everything, and I still pretty much play everything.  With two young and active boys we play it all.  My intent is to expose them to as much as possible and let them decide what they want to do.  It’s interesting to see what they will pick up each day and learn. A few years ago my life was all about soccer. From my day job to coaching multiple teams that’s what I did. I loved it. Life happened, things changed, and I found Floorball.  I still love soccer, but there’s something to Floorball that’s really put a spark in me.  Everything I’ve learned up to this point I’m trying to use in order to build and grow Floorball into another major sport.  It’s not a simple process and it is likely not one I will see in my lifetime, but I believe in my core there is something here. I can’t deny it, and I can’t run from it.  It continue to find me and continue to push me.

While that sentiment may be what I have, it’s not usually the case for others. Those who see the same things I do with Floorball want to get involved or start blogs, videos, or their own companies it’s not an easy process. Writing a book was one of the more challenging things I’ve done. I never thought I’d write a book before, but was something that happened, and I took the opportunity.  I took a chance on myself and I didn’t give up.  It’s come with a lot of hard work and failure, but also success. Through that failure I’ve been able to step back and rethink the approach to make it better.

All I can say is that if you’re reading this you’re not alone.  You will struggle, fail, succeed, and repeat the process many times over.  The key is to find the positive in the situation, find others around you to support you on your journey, and have fun doing it.  It’s easy to look at someone who succeeds and think it was easy for them.  We forget that we will never know or see the work, failures, and sacrifices made to get to that point. More importantly we need to stop comparing success of others to our success.  You’ll get that event off the ground, league started, tournament running, and as long as you work hard and keep it positive you can’t go wrong.

Overcoming barriers

It’s a simple fact that sports bring people together. Sports can bring out the best and unfortunately the worst in us.  In the end if we’re surrounded by people coaching us along and if we pay attention we’ll learn many life lessons through our experiences.

Our experiences as players, coaches, officials, and spectators makes an impact that resonates long after the game is over.  Through these experiences we look to share that with others, specifically our children to pass it along to the next generation.  As a player, official, and coach this sentiment rings true in my life and has shaped who I am as a person.  However, every sport faced challenges starting up and Floorball is no different.

Today sports, especially youth sports, impact a significant amount of kids.  Depending on your age, ability, and location there may be a limited number of options available all vying for the same spaces, time, players, and money.  How does a new sport break onto the scene and fight through the noise for acceptance into the fray?  For many, any new sport poses a potential threat to the current status quo.  Much like a competing business more players in the game potentially threaten the existence of the other.  While it’s not unordinary to feel this way, I view it as an opportunity, and a worthy challenge.  For those willing to accept the challenge, competition breeds innovation, adaptation.  In the end, it’s the consumer who will ultimately decide the fate of both companies.  If players are fleeing one sport to take up another it should signal a clear shift that the new sport is filling a need the other isn’t.

To take its position in the sports world Floorball must overcome some of these barriers including, education, training, development, and space.  Consumers must be educated as to why it’s a beneficial sport, they must be trained how to play the game as intended, leagues and instructional programs must be created to build the level of experience in players, and they must fight for space to play.  One of the distinct advantages Floorball has is that is can be easily picked up with very little training.  Also, Floorball can be played anywhere.  This opens more potential opportunities find unused locations, and by doing so allows for the growth of the sport to happen.

Whatever happens in the future I firmly believe that Floorball is one of many sports that are growing in popularity around the World.  As the sport continues to gain notoriety we will continue to see more education, training, development, and space allotted to future it’s growth.

The World Floorball Championship Process

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.

Spreading the word about Floorball

Floorball is very much a grassroots movement.  While it’s shown much growth throughout Europe and Asia, it is still widely unknown in the sports world.  At least for now.  I believe the tide is turning in favor of Floorball as more and more people are getting exposed to the sport.  Floorball has done a good job of getting the sport into some of the biggest sports events in the world with the ultimate goal of becoming part of the Olympics.  In order to continue its march toward relevance Floorball must continue to spread the word.

In order to do that Floorball needs more and more advocates to grow.  I’m thankful enough to have met so many wonderful people who have found a passion for Floorball.  What’s interesting is that we have all come from different backgrounds and walks of life, but our belief is the same.  Everyone involved in Floorball wants to see it continue to grow.  If you’ve ever met some of these people you’ll quickly get a sense on how passionate they are about the sport.  All of them want to see more and more people catch the Floorball fever.  Some have gone on to start various business ventures, while others have formed Floorball groups and clubs.  For a sport that’s growing, this base of people is vital for long-term development.

If you’re part of the education, recreation, teaching, programming, or youth sports worlds you’re probably starting to see more information out there about Floorball.  We’re seeing more companies and people starting to attend conferences and do demonstrations about Floorball around the country.  Some companies are setting up booths at conventions, others are running demos, speaking and presenting at conferences. All of this is designed to engage people about Floorball.

All of these efforts are an important piece of the puzzle to build awareness and hopefully develop more passionate Floorball people.  While I might disagree with some on the approach to spreading the word in the end it doesn’t matter too much as long as people are getting exposed to the sport.  We have to be out there, talking about it, showing people what it is, and raising awareness.

Floorball faces an uphill battle.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The sports world is a crowded space with any number of sports clamoring for people’s attention.  Just looking at the sports competing in the World Games and you’ll probably find a handful of sports you never knew existed.  These are all sports fighting to become known, build participation, and continue to stay relevant in today’s world.  Each sport has its own dedicated base all pushing for similar goals.  The challenge for all is to showcase why their sport deserves the attention.

I think Floorball has all the ingredients to become a force in the sports world.  It is fun, fast, inclusive, great cardio vascular activity, and more importantly fun to play and watch.   If you’re reading this and already have a passion for the sport I hope you’re already spreading the word.  I encourage you to continue to do so.  Get creative in how you present this sport.  Look for any opportunity to get in front of people and groups.  It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.  Just keep pushing forward and good things will happen.

Keys to Starting a Floorball Program

You’ve recently found Floorball in some fashion.  Maybe you heard about it from a friend, saw a video on youtube, or social media.  If you’re reading this you’ve found what I’m doing in regards to Floorball so welcome.  I’m hoping that in your quest for knowledge you’re starting to develop an interest or maybe fostering a passion for Floorball.  If you’re like me, when you saw Floorball you wondered about why you hadn’t heard about it before.  You may also be wondering how you get involved. These are great questions to ask, but will take you on a journey of discovery.  In the end what you do with this new found knowledge will depend on you.

Unfortunately for most you probably don’t have a developed Floorball program in your area.  If you’re a person of action that will likely fall on your shoulders.  You can try to approach other organizations hoping they’ll see what you see and start a program for you.  The likelihood of that is small, not out of the question, but not as easy a sell as you might think.  I’m not saying this to discourage, but to inform given the experiences and lessons I’ve learned through my own journey.  I hope you can learn from my mistakes and failures and successes.

I want to tell you the secret to success.  You may or may not want to hear it, and you may disagree with it, but in all honesty it’s a sure fire way to expand and grow Floorball in your local area.  The question is are you willing to act on it.  Are you ready?  The most effective way to grow Floorball everywhere is youth programming.  What I’m referring to is a multi-step process and will take time to implement.  First, you’ll need to invest in some equipment (say, $500 to start) that should get you enough sticks to start.  Second, you’ll want to connect with the local City Parks and Rec.  Offer your services as a 1099 employee to run a brand new program and that you’ll be the instructor.   At the same time you’ll want to negotiate the rate of pay.  Personally I’d avoid an hourly rate and work off a percentage split based on the user fee.  As your program grows you make more money as does the city.  They get to offer a brand new sport without having to do much of the work.   You can also leverage their marketing power to build your program.

When programming you’ll want to be mindful of marketing schedules.  Some cities offer a new guide every quarter, while others do biannually.  If you miss the deadline you miss out on the marketing impact.  Make sure to stay on top of that.  The nice part about a partnership like this is that you’re both vested in the program.  If it becomes a success the city will see that and may be able to help you with the next phase.  The next phase is leagues for youth and adults.  Use the classes to fuel the leagues, and over time you will have developed a sustainable program.

Here’s the tough part.  It’s going to take time.  It won’t happen overnight and you won’t likely see a lot of interest in the beginning.  From a class perspective parents and kids come back because the like the sport or activity, but they’ll for sure come back if they like the instructor.  Its hard work being an instructor, and it’s not always that much fun.  It’s way more fun to develop leagues because you get to play.  It’s less fun just teaching and not getting to play, so to a degree it’s a bit of a sacrifice.  If you want to see your program grow you’re going to have to put in the work and make the sacrifice.  In the end if done right you will see the reward of your efforts in the end.