Floorball is flourishing in North America. The premiere year of the North American Floorball League (NAFL) will start in the USA and Canada at the beginning of next summer. Its founder is a businessman and a proud Texan passionate about floorball, Ryan Connor, who uncovered the backstage of a new floorball project born overseas.
If you delve into the chronicle of American floorball history, you will learn that without the Swedes and Finns, who did not want to give up their favorite sport after moving to the United States in the early 1990s, floorball probably would not have gotten across the ocean. Or at least not so soon. Gradually, local teams were formed, with players who were always connected to the north of Europe in some way. Floorball has also expanded to the university level.
The team representing the stars and stripes of the American flag headed for the men’s world championship for the first time in 2001, the Americans compared their strengths with the world competition two years later. In the story of American floorball, perhaps the most frequently inflected personality is Adam Troy – the founder of USA Floorball (American Floorball Association), the current manager of the American national team and a former long-time representative. So it’s no coincidence that he became the mentor of the newly emerging league. After all, Adam Troy is named after the NAFL winner – the Troy Cup.
In the premiere season, the NAFL will have eight teams divided into western and eastern divisions. The entire season will take place in just four weekends and will culminate in a playoffs, where the top two teams from each division will compete for the first ever North American title. Since the official introduction of the first North American Continental Floorball League this August, three registered clubs have been gradually published so far. Fort Worth Panthers Floorball Club, Texas Tornados, Adam Troy, who currently creates media content for multiple Swedish champion Storvreta IBK, and Cleveland Buccaneers (Buc’s).
“Play hard or go home” – the motto of the North American floorball league.
What was the impetus for the formation of the North American Floorball League? “We want to open the door to the further development of floorball in the United States and Canada. I have always watched with enthusiasm how floorball is played at the highest level in Europe and at world championship matches, and I wish to bring such enthusiasm into the game to North America, ”explains founder Ryan Connor. “I think floorball is a game that is easy to learn and play, but watching the best players in the world has helped me appreciate floorball a little more. I want every player and fan in our country to have the opportunity to see the same level of play as I saw in Sweden, “he adds.
The plan was to start slowly, but according to the development of the number of registered teams so far, it seems that the interest exceeds expectations. “We are looking forward to the great interest. That is why we try not to rush anything. While the individual participating teams are being published, big things are happening behind the scenes. Before the potential owner announces the participation of his team, he must arrange a lot of things that are not visible. It’s not just about choosing a name and a mascot!” He warns.
Connor describes in more detail what precedes the team from becoming an official NAFL participant. “The owner must create a legal entity, take care of taxes and accounting, present himself on the website and start working on social media. So even if we already know a month or more before the announcement, who is the next owner, we leave him the time needed to be ready for publication, “he says. Along with the activities of the owners, the league registers new players, seeks certified referees, negotiates with sponsors, and works to ensure live broadcasts. According to Ryan, fans usually don’t care much about what’s going on behind the curtain. They are just expecting a high level of league matches. “And our task is to bring them such a level,” he emphasizes.
While in the Czech Republic the journey to the match takes a maximum of a few hours, traveling around the USA and Canada is not so easy. The domestic area is far from the size of the average American state, so it’s hard to imagine that superliga matches are flown by plane, for example. However, NAFL players will have to travel across the continent for floorball and will probably also have to reckon with high travel costs. Connor represents where the funds will come from not only these trips, but also for the running of the entire league. “Teams will be funded by club owners. Each owner has the opportunity to get sponsors for their team in exchange for providing space for advertising. They will also receive funding from ticket sales and concessions. The league is working to secure other sources of income and the owners will be able to participate in some of them, “he explains.
The European floorball community is certainly not negligible, but this statement does not yet apply to America. “Floorball is a relatively unknown sport in our country, but it is here and its popularity is still growing! I believe that floorball has great potential here. When people watch floorball here, they also want to play it. When they play it, they want to watch it at a higher level. Our job is to introduce floorball to North America at a high level and I believe it will attract new players to local clubs and national teams. Many people put a lot of effort into building a floorball base and the professional league is simply the next step in the growth of this sport, “he says excitedly.
Finally, we also get to the prospects for the future direction of North American floorball, which, according to Ryan Connor, are very promising. “I believe we have a bright future ahead of us. New clubs are constantly emerging across the country, with an emphasis on young players, floorball is also flourishing at universities, and national teams in the United States and Canada are gaining valuable experience that is moving forward year after year. I hope that thanks to our new league, floorball will become more widely known and attract new players. I am very pleased to be a part of this stage of floorball development in our country. ” For more information, visit www.nafloorball.com, and if you are considering moving overseas, there is also the option of non-binding player registration.
Autor: Tereza Pitterlingová