Floorball activities in Finland have been repeatedly suspended and this causes problems to the floorball clubs when the member numbers are dropping. In addition,  the well-being of children and youth can be threatened.

In floorball as in many other sports the 2019-2020 season ended in March 2020. This season the floorball activities of kids and youth were completely stopped in some other parts of Finland from the end of November 2020 to the end of January 2021.

The floorball activities of youth over the age of 12 in the Helsinki area and in much of the rest of Finland is currently completely suspended at least until the 28th of March. For the lower adult series, both training and competition activities were interrupted at the end of November in most parts of the country.

Future of the clubs at stake

For floorball clubs, the situation means that the number of members has dropped significantly.

– By the turn of the year, there was almost a 10 percent drop and after that even more. Due to the decrease in the number of players, the income  of clubs has collapsed. However, the costs of the clubs have not decreased in the same way, says Executive Director of the Finnish Floorball Federation Pekka Ilmivalta in the Federation’s press release.

As activities have been suspended, it is problematic for clubs to charge monthly fees to their members and junior parents.

– Hall costs in private venues are still rolling, as are the fixed costs of organising club activities, Ilmivalta points out.

In Finland, the most significant fixed costs in floorball are salary costs and rental costs for private halls. In floorball, private sports facilities are more widely used than in other sports. Spectator revenue normally received from events has also now been lost.

– From the Finnish Floorball Federation’s point of view, the suspension of the games in November will weaken the current year’s result by at least 350 000 euros. The final effect depends on the continuation of the season. The loss is likely to be even significantly larger, Ilmivalta predicts.

The Finnish Floorball Federation is very concerned about how the situation will affect the operations of the 2021–2022 season, including the number of teams and players, and the survival of Finnish floorball clubs.

– In order to ensure continuation of the club activities, Finnish floorball and other sports should receive support from the Ministry of Education and Culture before the beginning of the 2021–2022 season in order to secure the operating conditions, Ilmivalta states.

Well-being of children and youth can be threatened

A much greater social concern is related to the exercising activities and the well-being of children and young people.

– The Finnish Floorball Federation is very concerned about the long-term effects of the corona on the well-being of children and youth. The long break has dropped a significant number of players from the activities. How can they, and especially those who move less under normal conditions, be brought back into exercising? Active children are much more likely to return to hobbies than those who are more passive, and this can lead to major societal problems on both a mental and physical level, Jari Kinnunen, the Public Relations Director of the Finnish Floorball Federation, expresses his concerns.

Alerting report findings

In January 2021, the Finnish Floorball Federation conducted an extensive survey targeting the players who had stopped playing floorball. For adult players, the  future outlook is comforting, with 61% of the respondents saying that they might return to floorball.

The situation is however more alerting for children and youth: as many as 74% of those who stopped playing said they would not likely return to floorball. Only 26% left the possibility open for returning to the sport.

– A completely own dimension is the future of top sports in Finland, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, Kinnunen reminds.

–  How will the financial losses caused when playing for empty arenas hit the clubs? How can spectators be attracted back to the stands after the restrictions have been lifted? How will the pause in playing and the limited abilities to practice affect future potential? Kinnunen wonders.

No one will know the exact answers. But it is clear that the effects are by no means positive and the negative effects extend far into the future. The long-term effects on mental and physical well-being will have to be paid back for a long time.

Source: Finnish Floorball Federation

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