When Cote d’Ivoire joined the qualifications for the Men’s World Championships in 2020 there remained only one habitable (sorry Antarctica!) continent/area left that had not participated in a Men’s or Women’s IFF International event. South America/Latin America has so far not been represented at a qualification event in International Floorball by any country in the region, but signs point to this changing in the near future.
IFF Central Board member Mr. Carlos Lopez from Spain ran a floorball development webinar in March 2021 with Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. The webinar mainly concentrated on informing the participants on how the IFF works, what kind of member services the IFF has and a joint discussion of how to develop floorball in different countries.
Here are some of the member countries of the IFF in South America looking to be a part of the world of International Floorball:
Brazil is the only full member of the IFF having achieved this status in 1999. In September 2021 the Brazilian Floorball Association (BFA) were declared as “Officially Recognised” by the Olympic Committee of Brazil (COB), joining a select group of sports confederations to be officially recognised by the COB. This is a big step towards International play, with the BFA being able to request support for future projects, events and programmes from the Brazilian Olympic Committee and help with the greater exposure of the sport in Brazil as a whole. The most active organisers in Brazil are the Paulista Floorball Federation (FPFb) who are also responsible for the development of floorball in the State of São Paulo, and affiliated to the Brazilian Floorball Association (BFA). They most recently had their regional championships for regional teams in November 2021, in which both men and women competed, won by Paulistana. The last Brazilian Floorball Championship took place on October 27th 2019, in the City of Hortolandia with 10 teams competing from 4 different states. Brazil is the country with the largest player base and teams competing in the South America region and therefore the most likely country to compete in an IFF event in the near future.
Argentina became a provisional member of the IFF in 2007. They initially showed large floorball interest and were even due to be the first South American country to compete in an international tournament in 2008 when they applied for a wildcard to compete in the men’s WFC 2008 C division in Slovakia. Unfortunately, they withdrew their application shortly before the tournament began. Since then, Floorball has slowed down a bit with more focus being shifted towards field hockey. After taking part in the webinar the previous year the interest for floorball in Argentina remains, with the aim of an Argentina international team competing in an IFF event one day.
Colombia became the newest country to join as provisional members of the IFF, becoming the 75th country to do so in September 2021. As a result, Floorball is still very new to the country and does not have any leagues in place in the country. It is being pushed by certain individuals such as President of the Colombian Floorball Federation, Osneider Ortega Montenegro, who after attending an introductory Floorball course for sports teacher became one of the principal teachers and representatives for Floorball in Colombia. Mr Montenegro has organised many Floorball sessions and small tournaments for children and teenagers introducing them to the sport for the first time. When he first became interested in Floorball and spreading the game, he had no equipment so decided to make himself some sticks out of chair legs. This dedication and creativity are amazing to see and Mr Montengro along with the Colombian Floorball Federation are choosing more to focus on spreading the game to younger players and getting children participating instead of adult national teams and international competitions.
Venezuela became a provisional member in 2017. Like Colombia, the Venezuelan Floorball Federation is small in scale and most of the work in the country regarding Floorball is undertaken by a handful of individuals. They also aim to grow the game through coaching and providing sessions for a children and teenagers from schools or sports clubs. They are not focusing on international competitions currently and more on establishing greater exposure and a larger player base from a young age. Hopefully over time with larger interest and more coaching and development opportunities clubs and leagues can be formed from which the national team can begin to grow!
Other countries in South America such as Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have had some individuals express interest in promoting and developing the game in their respective countries. Whilst we do not know for certain which country will be the first to represent the region internationally, in some places the passion for Floorball is slowly beginning and hopefully will continue to build for many years to come!