Why was Canada chosen to host this year’s U19 Championships?
“The IFF realizes the importance of establishing Floorball in North America. It has the potential of being a much larger Floorball market than it now is, and by holding major events in the region it will assist with the awareness of the sport. The awareness is a vital part of the work to secure support at all levels, from the National Olympic Committee to local sports organizations.”
As you have been working with the LOC here in Halifax, how do you see the growth of floorball in Canada and how will hosting the tournament here impact that growth?
“We always hope that by hosting an international event, the impact on the growth of the game will be positive. Floorball Canada faces several problems to develop the sport, with one of the hardest problems to overcome is the size of the country. It is reliant on strong regional Floorball groups being established in order to build on this for a strong national organization. In Nova Scotia, we can see very positive growth of Floorball and this U19 WFC will surely further impact on this growth. Hopefully, this success will act as a model for other regions and we will see Floorball grow even stronger in Canada.”
Do you anticipate that fans in more developed countries will be coming to Canada to see the event first hand or will most be tuning in to cheer on their team through YouTube?
“With the Under 19 events, there is always a strong contingent of family supporters. Representing your country at junior level is a great honour and children do not succeed at the sport without a strong support system behind them. For the parents, being able to see your child participate in such an event is a highlight and reward for them also. I am sure that each country will have a strong group of supporters travelling with them. Of course, not everybody can either afford to travel or have the time away from other commitments to be there in person so the IFF is pleased that we can offer the possibility of all the games being visible free-to-air on YouTube.”
How do you see the role of social media impacting the reach of this tournament to new fans worldwide?
“Social media is important for any of our events but especially so for this one for a number of reasons. First, being held in Canada, away from the sport’s strongest supporter base in Europe, means that the majority of people will experience this tournament online – either via YouTube, the website or any of the many social media channels that we use. All of the national associations have a strong social media presence and will use this for reporting on the event. Secondly, the age category of the event is amongst the highest social media audience for Floorball. We expect that all of the over 300 athletes will be on social media, and via their own network this will be where the greatest interest for the event comes from.”
Why are you working in your role? What makes floorball real to you?
“I have been with the IFF for over 7 years and really enjoy seeing the sport grow. I come from Australia where Floorball is a very small sport. I moved to Finland to play (many years ago), and although I had been to several WFC’s already as a player, it was still a surprise to see how established the sport was in so many countries. Now, I work with all of the event organizers and many of them are very experienced in putting on tournaments week-to-week in their own countries, so it’s always interesting to see the different ways that they organize their events and to incorporate one or two elements from each of these to the IFF events.”
What are you most looking forward to this week?
“A U19 WFC is always exciting to watch. Players at this age are competitive and are willing to take risks – they want to show off their skills and be noticed. This is their big chance to make a name for themselves. So, the games themselves are what I’m looking forward to, and not only the games between the bigger countries. In the B-division there will be a lot of very even match-ups and it will be very hard to predict the scores. Having visited Halifax once before I hope to have at least a little chance to see some more of the area – hopefully, this time with less snow and fog.”