The International Floorball Federation is doing a number of things right in their development and growth of the sport of Floorball. The one area I’d like to highlight and focus on is their championship series. Every year they host the World Floorball Championships around the world. They have them in adult and U19 Men and Women competitions. As the number of countries looking to participate in the WFC increases the need for qualifier tournaments grows. In places like Europe and Asia these qualifying tournament allows developing countries the opportunity to compete and grow their product on a bigger stage. The fun part about it is that it allows for the upset to always be present. As more and more countries evolve their teams the level of competition will increase, which in turn produces a better overall product for the fans to watch.
In May of 2018 I was able to experience my first WFC in person at the U19 Women’s WFC located in St. Gallen and Herisau Switzerland. The location of the event was about 45 minutes east of Zurich and included 16 teams from around the world. It also saw a few newcomers to the U19 tournament from New Zealand and Australia. I’ve been to and been part of a variety of sports tournaments over the years, but this one felt a bit different. This was not simply a rec league event, but a marquee sporting product with dedicated professional staff and an overall professional feel.
The WFC is currently broken into two groups. Group A is comprised of the top eight teams while Group B is comprised of newer and lower level teams. Ideally this format will pit similar skill level countries against each other in the hopes of increasing development, but also providing more engaging matches for spectators. However, the winner of group B is promoted to group A the next tournament, while the eighth seeded team in group A is relegated to the lower group. This year we saw this format play out with Germany upsetting the trend as the eighth seed of group A by taking seventh place to stay in the top group. The drama placed around this story was a great one to watch throughout the tournament, and was one of many stories that came up during the tournament.
One interesting component of the tournament was having two separate locations for group matches. The group A facility was phenomenal, and being a spectator provided a great atmosphere to watch a number of key matches. However, I really enjoyed the smaller venue that group B played in. What I like about a smaller venue is that when it’s packed and the fans are engaged it’s an amazing atmosphere. As a player I would rather play in a smaller packed facility than a larger more empty space. The atmosphere created as a result of some of the matches and fans in the group B location really stood out to me. I can’t wait to get to the next WFC wherever I’m able to be at. If you’re a fan of all sports and are looking for a unique and engaging event you need to check out attending a World Floorball Championship.