(Guest post by Michael Blažík)
The season 2017/2018 has been a revolution in the Chinese floorball development as the first official floorball league has been launched.
Six teams signed up for the first year of the Oriental Cup Floorball League, that took place in Shanghai. The teams played ten rounds, meeting one another twice with always playing two games each day. On Sunday, May 13th, the play-off day took place at the Donghua University of Shanghai Gymnasium.
The regular season was dominated by team Yilin, who won all of its games. The team faced DHU (Donghua University) in the semifinals. Even though the score was close for the whole game, Yilin had the match in their grasp and secured a 4-2 win. The other semifinal was played by USST (Science and Technology University) and SUS (Sports University Shanghai). This game was breathtaking: SUS led the game 3-0 at the beginning of the third period, but USST managed to equalize to 3-3 in the last seconds of the game. The finalist had to be decided by a penalty shootout, where USST proved to be better and made to the finals to face their rivals from Yilin team (to which they have lost both games in the regular season: 0-4 and 5-6).
“With the number of people in China, the possibilities are limitless!”
The finals offered the best floorball in China. USST took the lead early on and after the first period, the scoreboard showed 3-0 for USST and Yilin had a lot to think about. But in the second period, the Yilin team took the initiative and by the end of the period, the score was tied 3-3! The last period was promising and showed drama and emotions as many players had to sit on the penalty bench to cool down. USST took the lead again in the first minute (4-3), but Yilin managed to equalize and from then on they seemed to have more control over the game. It seemed the game was about to lead to a penalty shootout to decide the first champion of the Chinese league in history – but a quick attack 25 seconds before the end of the game secured the Oriental Cup League Champions title to the Yilin team!
Michael Blažík is one of the organizers of the league: “The foundation of this league has been a major breakthrough for the Chinese floorball as it has made pressure on the development of every sphere of the game. It was a huge impact for the referees to work on their knowledge and abilities and mainly the team quality has grown super fast, thanks to the high competitiveness that Chinese society is known for.” The Czech continues: “I hope we will expand the league for the next season, maybe even start in other big Chinese cities like Beijing or Chengdu. Already the plan is to start a regular women’s league as we’ve been preparing the female players and teams in this years ‘3+1 Women’s league’, same as we did last year, where the first step of the Oriental Floorball League was the ‘3+1 league project’.”
Chinese floorball is experiencing a swift development, especially among Chinese kids. More and more schools are adding floorball as their school sports and several youth floorball leagues have arisen. “The youth teams are the grassroots we need, to build floorball as a massive sport in China. With the number of people in China the possibilities are limitless”, concludes Blažík. “Just Shanghai itself has more than twenty million inhabitants!”
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