In honour of International Floorball Day on the 12th of April let’s look back on the past year in our sport, at some of the biggest things that happened in the last 365 days.

2023 saw the return back to the “traditional” floorball calendar after years of disruptions and changes due to the Covid pandemic. In April the 2023 Men’s U19 World Floorball Championships took place in Frederikshavn, Denmark where the U19 total attendance record was broken for the tournament as a whole. The spectator total for the event was 18,316 breaking the previous record of 16,477 spectators set in Hamburg, Germany in 2013. The total number is calculated using the spectator numbers for each match. A total of 36 matches were played by the 16 participating nations. Sweden were victorious in the final beating Switzerland and claiming all IFF World Championships trophies in the hands of Swedish floorball joining the Women’s U19 team and Men’s national team from 2022 and the Women’s national team in 2023.

Photo Niklas Thim

 

Since 2022 had The World Games take place in Birmingham, Alabama there was a longer summer break for all Floorball players last year with the action kicking back off again in late August. The U19 WFC 2024 qualifications took place in Besançon, France alongside the EuroFloorball Challenge which returned for the Men after a 4 year absence! From the U19 WFC 2024 European Qualifications it was Denmark, Italy and Hungary who qualified for the final tournament with hosts France missing out on their first ever entry in Women’s U19 International competition. In the Men’s EuroFloorball Challenge 7 teams took part with the final coming down to UKS Bankowka Zielonka from Poland winning against UFC Utrecht from the Netherlands 5-2. It was a busy but great week of floorball organised in Besançon by the French Floorball Federation.

 

2023 also saw the new format of the Champions Cup take place as the competition expanded from 4 teams in each gender category to 8! The Cup champions and Playoff champions from each respective “Top 4” country (Sweden, Czechia, Finland & Switzerland) now took part with the Quarter Finals now split into a North and South region. In the Women’s side Pixbo & Thorengruppen progressed from the North region with Zug & Kloten-Dietlikon progressing in the South to set up an all Swedish/Swiss Semi Finals. For the Men both Swedish sides also progressed from the North in Storvreta & Falun with Tatran Stresovice and Wiler-Ersigen completing the Semi Final lineup from the Southern region. The Semis were set and for the Women it was Sweden winning over Switzerland as Thorengruppen overcame Zug with Pixbo defeating Kloten-Dietlikon to set up an all Swedish final at the home of Pixbo in Gothenburg. The Men’s Semi finals ended up with Storvreta drawing league rivals Falun whilst Czech playoff champs Tatran Stresovice took on the Swiss playoff champs in Wiler-Ersigen. Storvreta and Falun could only be separated by penalty shots with Falun prevailing to push through into the final where they would meet Tatran Stresovice who themselves won in a nervous Overtime with a golden goal. The Finals in January of this year were both historic for different reasons. Thorengruppen marched into Gothenburg and left with the golden trophy as they won in a back and forth final over Pixbo 4-3 to become back to back Champions Cup winners. In the Men’s final in Prague, Swedish club dominance in this event was ended as backed by a partisan home crowd Tatran Stresovice beat Falun 6-4 in a physical, tough contest to win their first ever Champions Cup in history and keep them on track for an incredible Treble winning season (as of writing they are Czech Cup champions and are in the Czech Playoff final taking place this weekend)

Photo: Matyáš Klápa

 

In December of 2023 attention turned to the Women’s World Floorball Championships 2023, which were held in a very unique location, Singapore! After 18 years the Women’s WFC returned to Singapore in which Switzerland won their one and only World Championships Gold. Floorball being played in December often means players pack hats, gloves, thick coats and scarves but this time around it was sunglasses, bathing suits and flip flops that were in the suitcases as post training and match swim sessions in the pool became the norm. It was also a respite for the 3 teams from the AOFC region who were the ones not having to travel far, with all the European teams this time doing all the traveling and maybe that home region advantage proved advantageous for Japan who shocked many by finishing the tournament in 9th place beating Denmark, USA, Singapore and Germany on their way to one of their best placements at a World Floorball Championships. It was also joy for Denmark who bounced back after their loss against Japan to qualify for the playoffs where they finally beat rivals Norway for the first time since 2007, in Overtime, making the Quarter-Finals and securing a top 8 finish with a squad largely consisting of players under 21. A huge achievement for such a young team. It was the usual suspects competing at the top of the table however as Sweden, Finland, Czechia and Switzerland made the semi-finals yet again for the 8th Women’s WFC in a row (Latvia were the last team to break this trend back in 2007). In doing so all 4 teams also qualified for The World Games 2025 as the Women’s WFC 2023 was also a TWG 2025 qualification event where for the first time it was also announced both Men and Women’s Floorball were both to take part at an edition of The World Games. Sweden managed to overcome a resilient Switzerland in a tense Semi-Final whilst the flying Finns could not be grounded by Czechia to set up a tantilising final between the Nordic rivals. In the battle for bronze the Czechs overcame their inner demons to finally claim a Women’s WFC medal with their win over the Swiss marking only the 2nd time ever winning a medal, with their 1 previous coming all the way back in 2011. The Gold medal game started with a bang as Sweden found themselves up 6-0 after only 20 minutes shocking Finland into a stunned silence and state of shock. The Finns rallied but it wasn’t enough to claw back the big margin with the final score of 6-4 to Sweden further cementing the Swedish Women’s Floorball team as one of the most dominant sporting national teams in the world taking their 9th World Championship Gold in a row and making it 11 out of 14 Women’s WFC’s that have been won by the Yellow and Blue of Sweden. Slovakia ended their tournament on a high beating Poland for 5th place and claiming the last European qualification spot for The World Games 2025 in Chengdu, China joining Sweden, Finland, Czechia and Switzerland.

Photo: Eng Chin An

The start of 2024 alongside the Champions Cup finals were also the beginning of the Men’s WFC 2024 Qualifications in Europe. 11 teams would join Sweden in Malmö this December with qualifications taking place in Skofja Loka, Slovenia, Liepaja, Latvia & Lochow, Poland. The qualifications went mainly as expected in terms of ranking and predictions with the top 10 in World Ranking all progressing alongside Poland (who had a nervy final qualification game against Spain) and making history in qualifying for a Men’s WFC for the first time (new format, excluding previous A and B divisions) were Slovenia who ended up finishing 2nd in their qualifying group behind Switzerland after wins against Denmark & Italy with a draw against Belgium confirming their ticket to Malmö and sparking joyous scenes in Poden Arena. February also saw the Americas region qualification event for the WFC 2024 but it was even bigger as this also served as an official TWG 2025 qualification event with the winner qualifying for The World Games 2025 in Chengdu, China alongside Malmö for the Men’s World Championships 2024. Canada came in strong on paper and with the help of F-Liiga star Valtteri Viitakoski they won both matches against the USA to qualify for both the WFC 2024 and TWG 2025.

 

In member nation news, The IFF Central Board approved the Solomon Islands as provisional member in their May 2023 meeting. Benin also joined as provisional member number 80 in March of this year. The IFF now has a total of 80 member nations!

 

MANY EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2024

The next IFF event will be the 11th Women’s U19 World Floorball Championships from 8th – 12th May 2024 in Lahti, Finland. In conjunction with the U19 WFC 2024 the first ever 3v3 World Floorball Championships will also be held on the weekend of 11-12th of May in Lahti. 30 Men’s teams and 14 Women’s teams from around the world will look to compete for the inaugural 3v3 WFC Men’s and Women’s crown.

The last teams to qualify for Malmö 2024 and the Men’s WFC will be decided in the AOFC regional qualifications happening in Pasig, Philippines with the top 3 finishing teams from the AOFC region joining all the European sides and Canada for the final tournament in December.

August 2-4th will see the turn of the Women in the Americas region to fight it out and qualify for The World Games 2025 as that qualification event will take place in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada alongside the Men’s U19 WFC 2025 Qualifications for the Americas region between Canada and the USA.

Champions Cup will return again with the North and South Region Quarterfinals in August before the final in Late January 2025. The 6th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) will take place in Bangkok and Chonburi, Thailand with some of the AOFC nations taking part. The AIMAG now includes Floorball on its schedule of sports and it will continue to do so for future editions of the AIMAG making Floorball more prominent in Asia through Multi-Sport events alongside the South-East Asian Games (SEA Games).

We finish the year as ever with the grandest event of them all, the World Floorball Championships. This time the Men will take the stage in Malmö with hosts Sweden looking to make it 3 consecutive Men’s World Championships titles in a row. Who will be able to stop them? Only time will tell.


The 12th of April was declared as the International Floorball Day as a part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the IFF in 2016.

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