To provide more competitive sport opportunities, it will be important for the growth of Floorball to matriculate into higher levels of competition. To truly meet the needs of the current sports market, Floorball must ensure growth for girls and women throughout the sport.
The North American Floorball League looks to make that first step in the US. However, for sustained growth these leagues need to be well established, draw supporters, and have a consistent player pool to draw from within North America. There’s the potential for it to be a staple in high schools, and maybe even college, but the more likely outcome will come from the private sector.
There are obvious hurdles to making that move a reality. However, one aspect to it being a widely accepted sport is the emphasis on promoting women in the sport from the top down. The International Floorball Federation has made strides in the past to promote floorball among women by developing the Go Girls program. However, it’s unclear what impact that and other programs are having in drawing girls to the sport. It will be vital for the sport as a whole to ensure high engagement of girls and women.
While Floorball is growing throughout the world it is still lacking in growth in the US. Part of the problem is the overall development of the sport in the US is still primarily new. While new leagues, programs, and tournaments are being created with the some engagement of women playing in these events. One goal should be to increase this number but creating opportunities for girls to learn and play.
For Floorball to grow in the US it needs to ensure that there is a continued commitment to developing female players. How and when do we attract and engage girls and women in Floorball? I believe it’s a multi tiered effort that starts at the very beginning. We need to teach girls, (and boys) at a young level to introduce them to the sport and foster opportunities to continue developing skills and a passion for the sport. I will argue that this must happen at the local levels and evolve from there.
Developing through Intramural Sports and club sports will also be crucial. Club sports traditionally are made up of non-varsity players that still compete at a high level but do not receive the same funding from the University as varsity sports. Rugby is a good example of a sport that is gaining popularity and developing collegiate club team, which form into leagues that aren’t solely defined by DI, DII, DIII status. Floorball could easily form leagues regionally across the country utilizing this format. Whether that would progress into a full-fledged NCAA varsity sport would take more time and development.
Title IX will also play a factor into the development of floorball at this level. Floorball can be an attractive sport for many, and because it’s already well established at the international level it could be a perfect fit for athletic programs looking to increase female participation in sports. With more and more kids and parents looking for more options to get involved in sports at the collegiate level floorball could meet the need for a new, exciting, and low contact sport. If the development is focused from the youth level upward there is a real possibility for floorball to become a force in the collegiate athletic world.
The question in college athletics is has the landscape changed? Has the impact of COVID-19 changed how we view college athletics and the budgets they require? Will private organization rise to meet the needs of this changing landscape? Part of our goal is to create opportunities for boys and girls to learn Floorball and find a passion for the sport. It is a process that takes time and dedication. We’re excited to see how this sport will impact boys and girls going forward. We implore you. If you’re starting a program, please make sure to target and engage girls in this process.