Kimmo Vallema blogs about his floorball experiences in Germany. Want to know more about him? Click here to read his introduction article.
“Greetings from Finland,
Just this past two weeks I have had the pleasure of visiting my native land of Finland. Even if I never did really play organized floorball in Finland, I decided to not quit the sport even during my holidays.
Tor, 1st Division floorball club
I come from a small town of Kotka some 1,5h east of Helsinki towards Russia. Even if my own city does not have a team playing at the higher levels in Finnish leagues at the moment, I managed to find one not so far away. A small town of Loviisa (see map below), between Helsinki and Kotka, hosts Loviisa Tor -Club currently preparing for the upcoming season in the Finnish 1st Division.
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I contacted this club a little while before I started my vacation, asking if they had a little time for me. I basically just wanted to come and visit and see how a club in Finland is organized and functions. Perhaps I could get some pointers to get our fledgling-sport in Germany to the infamous “next level”. They graciously accepted my request and just this last Wednesday I headed over to see them practice and spend some time with their staff.
Exchanging experiences between a Finnish and a German club
I was met with a number of the staff whilst the team was getting ready to do a training session on the background. We exchanged a story or two and were, for the next two hours, basically just going “how do you do this in Finland?” or “How do you guys do this in Germany?”. One can tell that even if the sport in Finland still frequently suffers from “little brother” – perhaps even “little bastard brother” – position in the cities, having to compete against more established sports like football and ice hockey, they often seem miles ahead when compared to Germany.
Finland having played a major role itself in developing this sport we today know as Floorball, the “industry” behind it seems light-years ahead. Simple things like having some big manufacturers of Floorball-equipment (the Finnish Fatpipe for instance, but also Oxdog is relatively big in Finland) opens up quite a different level of cooperation between the clubs and the manufacturers. Now do not get me wrong, this is by no means a punch and a kick against the sponsors in Germany – quite the opposite! I tip my hat to all those companies that have taken the plunge and decided to support this sport in Germany.
Where is the first German floorball equipment manufactory?
However, this sport is young even on the world-wide level and in Germany even more so. I see no reason however why German industry could not recognize the potential in the future and bring out the first German sticks and other material. (If you read this, and you are planning to start your own floorball manufactory so after this… I am easy on the royalties, I do not charge a lot for the idea!)
So back to the topic, Tor, like many of the other clubs in Finland at that level, have a wide variety of sponsors, one of them being a Stick-manufacturer. Without going into amounts or anything like that, they basically provide the club with some equipment through sponsoring which does relieve a lot of the financial pressure from the players and/or the club.
Sponsoring in Germany stays on a small level
This level in Germany is still unheard of, unfortunately. The rest of the sponsoring-concept for the clubs seems similar between the two countries with clubs selling advertising-space on shirts and jerseys, the field, wall-space, programs et cetera.
One thing that does help a little perhaps is to be a successful club in a small town. This basically allows more of the “our club” feeling that translates often to the local companies interest in sponsoring (read: money to the club).
Scouting for talents
Enough about the money. I did go Tor to just create contacts as well. There are surely tens of floorball-playing students each year leaving Finland to go on an exchange-program all over the world. This is something I believe we as a Floorballing-community could easily tap into.
The level of play in Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland is generally much higher than for example Germany. This means there are plenty of aspiring talents in those countries that are perhaps still too inexperienced to get a position in their respective home-clubs but could well benefit from getting plenty of time on the field. Why not combine then the studies… perhaps an exchange-year in places like Germany and find a club there.
Since the level in German competition is not as high as in Finland for example, this young player could likely find a place in the team quite easily. If the chemistry matches and the player is willing to take on a bigger role than he is perhaps used to, this seems like a match made in heaven. You get to play in the adult league, where the physical play is already a little different than the junior teams they might have left. Furthermore, this player gets a big role in the team, and build his/her confidence not only on the field floorball-wise, but also having the experience of living abroad.
Back to Tor
So these are the kind things we chatted about. Of course, we discussed million other things as well; anything from practice-routines, game-day preparations, long travels, and so on. The details of these I will keep as a close-guarded secret for our club only.
Seriously, there does not seem to be that many major differences between the two countries. I think Germany is well on its way to developing into establishing itself in the international scene, it just will take some time. The recent good performances of the national teams not only in Prague for the WFC, but also the U19 qualifying for the “A-levels” in 2021: the signs are all there and they look pretty good.
Training structure in Tor: all about intensity
Oh, one more thing. I especially stayed away from commenting on the actual practice they did in Loviisa, because I am not an expert. What I did notice, however, was that the structure of the training was very similar to that what we already do in Holzbüttgen – to the level of the actual exercises!
I remember doing most of those myself already. However… the intensity of the training in Loviisa was still something else. Every exercise was discussed, its relation to the game was first shortly discussed and then exercised, at times at terrifying tempo.
Miles ahead on a technical level
This is where we in Germany still have some way to go. These guys – almost said kids as most of the players could be age-wise my own kids – have mostly been playing and training since they were knee-high.
This means their technical ability is on a quite different level than their counterparts in Germany. Where we still source players from other sports or university-clubs, the number of players around 20-year old that have already been playing and participated in well-structured training around technique and tactics is quite small. But we are getting there!
Once Germany manages to get the critical mass of players, the quality will improve and the big four might want to start paying attention as they just might be challenged in ways they have not seen before.
Well so much from me for now. I still have a couple of days in Finland to enjoy before returning to Germany. Hope to see some of you at the Renew Cup in Kaarst… come say hi!
Last but not least, I would like to thank the staff of Loviisa Tor for their time. It was really fun and informative for me. They seem to have their thing together well and I wish them all the best in the league for the upcoming season.
Any thoughts about floorball in Germany? Or questions you’d like to ask Kimmo? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected] or contacting us through social media!