Members of the IFF Athletes’ Commission will be writing monthly blog posts on the IFF website. First up is the Swiss national team and Pixbo IBK goalkeeper Lara Heini who is talking about her experiences in the Floorball Champions Cup as well as the new format of the event.
In my first season in the Swiss top league, we won the league title with Piranha Chur and so the following season in 2012, I played my first Champions Cup in Umeå. It was my first ever trip to Sweden and back then the Champions Cup was a bigger tournament and we were there for almost a week. Ideal for building up a team, spending time together, and getting to know each other. I took part in the Champions Cup a total of 6 times and I have a lot of great memories and stories to tell. From disappeared goalkeeper pants that I needed to steal Pascal Meier’s pants from the hallway to a beautiful trip to the summer house of Mia Karjalainen and experiencing a Finnish sauna for the first time and of course, some great players’ parties as well.
A few years later the format was unfortunately changed and I remember that at the Champions Cup 2016 in Borås, we did not play against any champions from the top nations, which is theoretically the aim of the tournament. We played against the host IKSU, who for once, did not become champions the season before. They literally finished us (final score 11-2) and so we only had one game left on Sunday morning at 9:00 against the Russian champions and the tournament was over. Unfortunately, I missed the Champions Cup in 2018 because I moved to Pixbo and Sweden after winning the championship title in the spring of 2018. Since then I’ve been waiting for the first championship title in Sweden and another Champions Cup participation.
Now for this season, there is a new format, similar to the Champions Hockey League with a home and away game first in the quarter-final and later in the semi-final before playing the final. I liked the concept the first time we talked about it in the IFF Rules and Competition Committee (RACC) and I must say, now after being actively part of it, I still like it! Two teams from the top four countries are qualified and that’s why also my team has the chance to play the Champions Cup this year. In general, that means that each country has the chance to host at least four international top games (two men and two women) and if one or more teams qualify for the semi-final, it will be even more. At the same time, there is one final event which has a great marketing potential.
Great start but a lot to improve
The new way of playing the Champions Cup feels more professional and it is a great way to showcase international floorball in different countries – hopefully in more than the top four only in the future. The downside of the new concept is, that it’s not really embedded in the national leagues yet. For the clubs, it’s quite a pain to fit these games into the schedule and in my opinion, the leagues need to have a better solution next year. It has an enormous potential to market such top international games. The clubs get the chance to create a great event. However, some clubs did not really see that potential this year, unfortunately. Also, in Sweden, we played so early (August 19th) that no one realized that there was already such a game as people were not familiar with the new concept yet. Communication needs to be improved as well. The biggest disappointment however is coming with the semi-final. The game between my team (Pixbo IBK) and Kloten-Dietlikon Jets, will be played in a small hall without space for the audience. In my opinion, the chosen venue falls far short of the necessary requirements for hosting a semi-final match of a Champions Cup. Unfortunately, I am convinced that this would have never happened on the men’s side.
I hope the federations and the clubs learned something from the first edition this year and they will see the potential of this tournament. Let’s shift the focus from negative thinking (costs, stress, forced to organise something) to the potential that this brings to showcase our sport on international top level to a wider audience and create unforgettable events. I am convinced this pays off. In summary, I think it’s a great chance for our sport and I love the concept, we just need to learn from this first edition and do it even better next year.
For me personally, I am just looking forward to having the opportunity to play in my home country and hopefully having many family members and friends in the audience, who otherwise never see me and my team playing. See you in the hall!
Champions Cup semi-final schedule
Sunday 5th November 13:00 Pixbo IBK vs Kloten-Dietlikon Jets (Wallenstam Arena)
Saturday 11th November 18:00 Kloten-Dietlikon Jets vs Pixbo IBK (Sporthalle Stighag)