Lately, there has been a lot of fuss about floorball in connection with China. The most populous country on earth ushered to the floorball scene strongly in the past years by becoming a member of the IFF, by signing up their national team for the first time to an IFF event and by getting the rights to organize WFC U19 in 2020. It was this year, 2017, when the first Chinese national team played it’s official match against another Asian opponents at the qualification for the Women’s World Championship taking place in Bratislava, Slovakia later this year. And even though the team’s results weren’t terrific, it was a historical moment for the whole Chinese floorball movement. Michael Blazik will give us a closer look on how the Chinese floorball really looks like. The Czech coach has moved to China last year to push the local floorball development to another step.
“I would like to dare all the floorball adventurers to come to China and be part of this floorball development!”
“During my university studies I worked for the Superleague team Sparta Prague as a coach and also as a chief coach of their youth academy. Twice during summer break I made a floorball visit to Asia. First to Korea and then to China.” These were the first steps for Michael Blazik in his Asian floorball career. With the Koreans he participated at the WFC2014 in Sweden as the team coach and in China he organised the first ever youth floorball camp in 2015. “After I finished university I got an offer from Shanghai to come to work in China full-time. I didn’t hesitate much and I seized this opportunity on writing the first chapters of Chinese floorball.”
So what does floorball in China actually look like? “There is a number of groups that are independently on each other organizing and developing floorball. Their focus is youth floorball and so at the moment there maybe a few thousands of young floorballers. The problem is fragmentation of the floorball scene and the animosity between these groups which don’t want to cooperate with each other.”
Michael Blazik has decided to fight this animosity and tries step by step to unite these groups. He founded the Salming 3+1 league, the first Chinese floorball league in Shanghai. To make it simple to attend the league is open to new teams any time of the season. Each round is a tournament that takes place once a month. Every time new teams can sign up. The teams get points for their result at the tournament into the long term standings. This league has been going on since December and has already gone through 5 rounds. Next month the final round is on which will be also the closing of the first league season. Shortly after that the preparations for the next season will begin.
Blazik believes that in ten years floorball will be played by tens of thousands people or possible hundreds of thousands. “In a country with 1,3 billion it’s no problem.” However, big journeys start with small steps. “The first tournament was attended by 5 teams and since then the league has been growing regularly. In total 13 teams have already participated and the quality has been also growing. Nevertheless, the league has been dominated by the Latvian-Swedish formation called Manhattan IBK, which has except for one draw won all their games. We have also launched an analogical youth league and I trust that soon it will become a mass issue. Currently we have made just an internal U8 category for our own teams. We needed to set the standards and create something that will function. From the next month the youth league will be open to all interested teams.”
Floorball is mainly popular in Shanghai but is starting to grow in the nearby city of Hangzhou, Beijing and in some other big cities. “It would be great to get more floorball passionate people from Europe to come. Unfortunately, the level is very low and every person that played floorball in Europe at some level is a big contribution. I think it’s a great floorball adventure mainly for students who can take advantage of the many scholarships and exchange programs and come to Shanghai for instance, but also young coaches, who have an opportunity to become full-time employed in floorball. I would like to dare all the floorball adventurers to come to China and be part of this floorball development! I promise you a lot of experience and not just in the floorball sphere.
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