Canada will make their debut at The World Games floorball competition. They will play in Group B together with Finland, Czech Republic and USA. Canada also secured a spot at the Men’s World Floorball Championships 2022 in Switzerland, when USA hosted them in the qualification event in Texas on the weekend.
Valtteri Viitakoski is one of the key players of Team Canada. Viitakoski has represented the team in three Men’s World Floorball Championships. In the latest edition in Helsinki, Viitakoski finished second in the scoring leader statistics with 21 points in six matches. Canada finished 12th after losing the deciding match in penalty shootout against Poland. Viitakoski plays in Nokian KrP in the Finnish F-liiga and they played in the finals against the reigning champions Classic. Classic decided the final series yesterday with their sixth title in a row and Nokian KrP took home the second place and silver medals.
Viitakoski used to play ice hockey as his main sport until he was 21 years old and floorball was kind of his side sport there once or twice a week. The final decision to focus solely on floorball started to grow during the WFC in Riga in 2016. Viitakoski mentions his father as the person who has influenced his career the most. His father, who has played in the NHL and in the highest ice hockey league in Finland, has influenced both his floorball and ice hockey side and is supporting him today when he is focusing on floorball “even though he doesn’t understand that much about the floorball side”.
But what made Viitakoski fall in love with floorball and to really invest in it, was the technical side of the sport.
— And what made me fall in love with floorball I think already from my junior years was the skilful side of floorball, in ice hockey it’s more hitting, more stick lifting, more hitting with the stick so I think in floorball you have many more options to deke around with the ball and you have, every situation comes so fast, so you basically don’t even have one second to think what to do next and that’s what I love about the sport of course for myself I love scoring goals but that’s same in ice hockey and floorball but I think the technical part in floorball made me fall in love with this sport.
In addition to representing the national team of Canada, Viitakoski has also experience from playing in Switzerland. He represented Floorball Thurgau for two seasons before returning back to Nokian KrP in 2020. Both club teams are involved in his career highlights so far.
— My largest highlights in floorball life has been winning two times bronze medal with the Nokian KrP, first one in my first season playing floorball so that was a huge thing for me changing from ice hockey to floorball straight away winning the bronze medal in the highest men’s league in Finland. Then I would say one thing that I also value really high is when I played in Switzerland couple years, it gave me good life lessons and gave me sight what other thing floorball can give me than just the playing side. So those are my biggest things that I have got from the floorball side.
But why is showcasing floorball at a multisport event like The World Games a good opportunity to grow the sport?
— Yeah I think The World Games is important for floorball because it’s an opportunity to grow the sports also in the smaller countries, get the show there at least now it’s in America, so show the Americans the skilful side of how fast the sport is, everything that made me fall into the sport and now it’s an opportunity to show the other people and viewers how awesome the sport is so I think that’s a great opportunity to grow the sport for sure.
Watch the full interview:
Road to The World Games is a series of interviews with floorball stars who are getting ready for the 2022 edition of TWG. The interviews are created by Adam Troy.