Sergio Garces was elected to the IFF Athletes’ Commission in 2020. He has represented the Spanish Men’s national team since 2002 and is now re-considering his decision to retire after the WFC 2020 qualifications as the Covid-19 has changed many of his plans.
Because of his long experience of floorball in Spain, we wanted to know how he sees the development of floorball in Spain, the current challenges and possible ways to overcome the challenges.
You have been involved with floorball from the very beginning of the introduction of the sport in Spain. How do you see that the sport has developed in Spain during the past 10 years?
– Floorball over the last decade has been growing very slowly in Spain. Spain is a country where football is the number one sport and it is very difficult to grow as a sport where only football is shown on TV. The work in which the Spanish Federation has put more effort is to create sports clubs for new players and try to create clubs throughout Spain. Even so, floorball has become part of the school curriculum and is now practiced in all schools. Everyone knows what the sport of the stick and ball with holes is because they have practiced it in school and they liked it because it was fun.
– The continuity of its practice is one of the biggest problems. When they finish school or high school they don’t know where they can continue practicing it. That is the effort of our federation, to create sport clubs where children can practice and play this fantastic sport. To do this we need the support of the municipalities and town councils to have facilities to practice it and often there is no space for an unknown sport.
– During these last ten years we have had a National League with teams from different provinces, but many of them have withdrawn due to the economic difficulties of travelling around Spain. Sponsorship is another big problem, as it remains as an unknown sport for companies, it is very difficult to find sponsors. We need the Consejo Superior de Deporte (CSD) to officially recognise us as a sport so that teams can receive more economic support to be able to maintain themselves and grow.
What do you think that are the biggest challenges to further develop the sport in your country and perhaps other countries on the same level? And what do you think would be the best way to overcome these challenges?
– In my opinion, the biggest challenge and the next step to achieve in our struggle to make this sport bigger in Spain (and in countries at the same level as us) is to make us a space between sports that are highly practiced but that do not reach the level of the big ones. That is to say, to make the sport grow from the base level. Children and future generations are the most important part to make a sport grow and that is where the greatest investment needs to be made.
– To this end, sport must be promoted in schools, colleges and universities. Sports clubs and teams must be created in the big cities where they can train and compete with each other and little by little consolidate the lower categories up to the national level. I believe that in most countries that belong to the same level, the lack of teams is the big problem, and in this way, it would be solved gradually.
– On a sporting level, I think it is very important that the International Federation promotes more international tournaments between national teams of the same level or slightly better, as this is the way for the lower-ranking teams to raise their level. If all the teams raise their level, the World Championships will be much more attractive. In my mind there has always been the idea of a Euro Cup or a Nations League with countries of similar ranking that can be promoted to play with higher ranking teams in the years when there is no World Floorball Championships.
You have been a member of the IFF ATC since 2020, what questions are you particularly interested in? How has working in the ATC been so far?
– First of all, I just want to say that it is an honor to be part of the IFF ATC together with great floorball players worldwide. To be chosen by other national teams’ players is a huge responsibility. My great interest is to fight for the countries where floorball is still not so big and where, like in Spain, they are struggling to grow.
– We have had online meetings to talk about the IFF strategy for the future, how to help floorball to get bigger in the upcoming years. We have talked about the current situation and how we are dealing with it as floorball players. Also, how to focus our role to continue helping the sport and its players. I hope things will get better soon and we can meet face to face to continue working for the future of this sport.
You played in the WFC 2020 qualifications and said that would be your last WFC event, is that still the case and if yes, are you still involved with floorball in other ways?
– It’s a tough question. My intention after have played the WFC 2020 qualifications was to finish the regular season with my club Floorball Leganés and then play in October-November The EuroFloorball Cup as winners of the previous EuroFloorball Challenge and afterwards retire from the highest level. But everything changed because of Covid-19. All competitions were cancelled and in Spain it is still not possible to compete.
– As a diabetic person, I belong to a risk group and this season I am not training with my club for safety reasons. I have never been a year without floorball and I miss it so much. I hope to be able to return next season and it will be then when my body and feelings after being a season without floorball will decide.
– For the last decade I have always thought that at the end of a qualifier that would be my last one, but my body has been able to keep the international level of playing. This month I turn 40 and I don’t know if my body will hold up any longer that level. If not, I would like to be somehow involved with the national team and be able to help with everything I have learnt during my 20 years as a player.
– I just want to send my kind regards to all floorball players around the world, keep safe and hopefully we will see each other soon on the floorball courts.