Supporting the growth of Floorball in the United States.

Stefan Hedlund on the World Games and US Nationals

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Updated: August 3, 2017
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Only a few days have passed since the historic World Games in Wroclaw. Team USA ended 5th after two losses and a win. Head coach Stefan Hedlund looks back at the event and forward to the development camp in August and the World Games 2021 in Birmingham, USA.

Team USA finished the World Games with a 4-1 win over Poland, securing the 5th place. Stefan Hedlund was very pleased with the outcome.

– It feels great of course. What a game in front of so many enthusiastic Polish and American fans. I think it was a very entertaining game where we bounced back both mentally, tactically and energetically after two hard blows versus Sweden and Switzerland, says Stefan Hedlund.

The win was the first by an American team against a European team since 2008. Combine this with the fact that it was the first time that a US team attended the World Games, not to mention the first time facing top floorball nations Sweden and Switzerland and we have a real historic team on our hands. Finishing the World Games with a win was a perfect end to a great event and the coach sees clear reasons for the win.

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– We won because we really showed the right American spirit, which is the heart and intensity that we are known for. We implanted the word Funergy and that’s really what we showed against Poland. I think we played a great game and where the better team that in the end deserved the win.

Looking back at the losses Hedlund highlights the strength of the Swiss and Swedish teams containing some of the best players in the world. When it comes to tactical details he is more sparing in his remarks.

– I’ll keep that in our organization and within the team, but the things I can say is that Sweden and Switzerland are fantastic teams and that playing them with our unexperienced team can never be a close game. They have players from the best leagues in the world that are really elite athletes competing every single week versus the best players and teams in the world, Stefan Hedlund concludes.

Facing some of the best teams in the world did however show Team USA what level of play is required to compete for medals at the World Games and beyond. It is a lesson learned and one that will be of use in coming years. Looking back at the World Games as a whole Hedlund does not mince words

– What a great experience. It’s so great to see all the other sports and meet the other 3500 athletes and coaches, but best of all is that we have showed the world our sport. And the response has been awesome. So many people have opened their eyes for our sport and seen it for the first time and they loved it. Floorball show intensity, drama and that it is a fast sport with tough physical play, says Hedlund.

The end game for all US National teams is for floorball to grow in America. And so it is, slowly but surely.

– It’s very interesting to follow. More and more initiatives start and develop. More and more players are active. More and more clubs and schools adds floorball to their program. More and more players become coaches, and I really feel that the snowball is rolling and getting bigger.

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– Every year USA Floorball and the clubs put up development camps and clinics that help us spread the sport even faster. The next one, during the US Nationals the 25th to 27th August, I, my assistant coach Joel Olofsson and our best player during World Floorball Championships in 2016, Robin Brown, will attend during the weekend, Hedlund notes and continues.

– For me it’s the best opportunity to spread information about the national team standards and tactics. It’s a chance to have theory and practice that gives the players new input and inspiration until next camp. During the tournament I will scout all the players that have shown interest in being a national team player. I really hope that a lot of teams and players will attend the US Nationals weekend to play to become US National Champions and be a part of USA Floorball.

Everything points to the Olympics 2028 taking place in Los Angeles and the IFF see an opening for floorball to be part of the event via a good showing at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in 2021. But first floorball must make it to Birmingham, something that isn’t set yet, but Stefan Hedlund is optimistic.

– I can’t see a single reason why floorball should be taken away from the World Games’ program. It’s a fantastic sport with speed, finesse, technique but still needs genuine athletes to be fast enough to endure the intensity and physical part of the game. The physical strength, the game awareness, stick-hand-eye coordination and speed needed to become a star floorball player is hard to image for someone who hasn’t faced the top players in the world.

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When the conversation turns to the Olympics coach Hedlund continues to gush.

– The Olympics is such a big event so I understand how hard it is to be a sport on the program but floorball attracts the young and old, it attracts both woman and men. It’s so easy and fun to learn and can be played 1 on 1 or 3 on 3 and of course 5 on 5 with or without goalie. It’s accessible everywhere, especially at schools and clubs. It can be played outdoor at the schoolyards, as in every schoolyard in Sweden, and indoors.

When on the subject of the Olympics Hedlund reveals an idea.
– Why not start a third Olympic event. We have the Winter Olympics, and the summer Olympics. Why not start a third, the Indoor Olympics, where all the indoor sports could have their own Olympic games! In my mind it’s a marvellous proposition.

But as noted before focus can be turned to the Olympics there is am earlier step, secure floorball at the World Games in Birmingham in 2021.

– To play a floorball tournament home in USA at the World Games 2021, that would mean a lot. That could boost floorball in a way we can’t imagine. The sport has already made a strong impression among young kids in schools, especially where the NHL clubs have contributed to help floorball grow. But to take quicker steps we need the grownups to know about the sport. They are the principals at schools, they are the future sponsors and the future coaches, board members, club founders and so on. An event at home, in Birmingham, would be a dream come true for all floorball enthusiast in the US, Stefan Hedlund notes and continues.

– So it’s time to build a new team aiming for World Games 2021 and the impossible mission of taking one of the semifinal spots!

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The next step for the men’s national team will be a World Floorball Championship qualifying round against Canada this February, a tough challenge.
– To be prepared we need more camps, more clubs, more players, tournaments on a domestic level. To qualify we must beat Canada over two games in February. We lost the last qualification game versus Canada in Colorado but advanced thanks to our win over Jamaica, so it is a real challenge to qualify this time. We know that the numbers of players are growing rapidly and we want every interesting prospect for the future to get a chance, during our camps or at international events, Stefan Hedlund concludes.

The future of floorball is bright, not least for USA Floorball! The selection process for the World Championship Qualifier in February has yet to be set be we are hoping for a lot of interested players at the coming development camp, if you are interested in being on Team USA sign up for the development camp here!

Note that the development camp is open for all national teams and those interested in developing their floorball skills in general.