Thursday, November 8, 2012

Words from Vancouver's New Floorball Coach

Simon Sare, Swedish Floorball Coach in Vancouver
We heard that they have a new Coach in Vancouver. So we checked in with him. His name is Simon Sare and he happens to be from a town in Sweden, that we like very much ourselves (Gothenburg).

The way he analyse Floorball and the current North American Development is very interesting - both in terms of Floorball. .. but..

He also discuss Floorball in terms of  -  in relation to Ice Hockey - but also in relation to Floor Hockey - schools - and all other things that comes up when you move across the Pond from one West coast to another West coast and you put a full Plastic Sport in your suitcase as you go.

Well it is kinda' -  a m a z i n g.

Why Floorball - and how much is Floorball to you?
Floorball has been a big part of my life, it started when I was 7-8 years old and I started to play in my local team with my friends. We practiced once a week back then and played games once a week.
I've always been interested in sports and I've been playing a lot of different sports. When I was 13 years old I played 7 different sports! But that was way too much, so when I turned 15 I had scaled it down to ice hockey and floorball and now I had to chose one of them. 
I was really good at floorball and had just been offered to play in a really good team in Gothenburg, Sweden (my hometown) and I wasn't that good at ice hockey so I chose floorball and I’ll never regret that. Since then I've played the highest junior floorball league in Sweden, I went to one of the best floorball high schools in the world, been playing in the highest league in Norway and now I’m working with floorball in Canada. Just before I left Sweden I played with my local team Frölunda IBK in division 1. 

What do you do in Vancouver?
I work with Modern Hockey and BC Floorball to grow the sport here in British Colombia. 
It’s more than a full time job and we’re working with different thing everyday! So it’s a fun, challenging, job and two days are never the same. 
Right now we’re working on develop floorball programs in different schools, from kindergarten to universities. 
We're holding a high school tournament the 24th of November, and the purpose is to start a floorball spring league in high schools across BC and in the future all across Canada and in the US as well. 

We’re also working with hockey teams, to develop their skills and off-ice training, to practice stick handling, game sense, and to find more opportunities to practice with their teams, since it’s so busy with all the ice-rinks here in BC. 
We’re also running floorball programs for youth and BC’s U-19 team. And right now were preparing BC’s 3 national team players for the world cup in Switzerland. 
We've been trying to get a floorball setup at the concourse at a Vancouver Canucks game, but because the lockout we haven’t been able to to that. 
But as a good practice we had a floorball rink at the Vancouver Giants (junior hockey, WHL) and it turned out really good, so we’re prepared for more giants games and also Canucks games when/if the NHL starts again.
It is great to work with Modern Hockey on BC Floorball projects, because they have a real vision and real passion for growing the game. 
In the daytime if we don’t have any work, we just drive to a school, walk in the gym and ask the gym teacher to let us run a class. We bring in the sticks and the students just love it. One school at a time is probably going to take too long to grow the sport here, but once a hundred schools are up and running, the next thousand will come much easier. 
BC Floorball has developed the sport here with the right attitude and a real strategy. Let's hope it catches on in other areas across Canada and in the US as well.

Have you seen any Floor Hockey yet, and if so what do you think about it?
When I first came here I saw those plastic sticks and asked what they used them for, and it’s amazing that people play with those sticks. We've seen players play floor hockey indoors and also seen the sticks on the ice and I can’t understand how you can choose to play with that stick, its too long, heavy, bulky, hard to steer, straight and with a soft wobbly blade. To me it’s a no brainier if I could choose one of those sticks.
We've been to many different schools and I don’t think the PE teachers want to see a change, they don’t want to leave their comfort zone. It must be something that keeps them playing with those sticks and the aggressive sport that floor hockey is and I think that is something we need to change!

Here at Floorballcentral we think that one of the most important things Floorball have to do is to get educated coaches and leaders - what do you think?
I totally agree with you, we need educated coaches, but we’re not really there yet. I think that we need people to step up and just be there for the kids, and run their practices. Right now we don’t need the highest level of coaches, we need dads and moms to get involved and get more kids playing. People who are good with kids and good leaders, and eventually it will get more serious and we will need more tactics and good coaches but for now I think we need volunteers that are interested and learn them the basics to get more floorball sessions being played all around Canada!

Do you dare to expand your views upon the name Floorball and how you think it works on English (as compared to the Swedish name Innebandy?)
Innebandy has 9 170 000 hits on Google and floorball has 5 980 000 hits. But I’m not sure how we should expand this so the sport grows internationally. Maybe tag everything as floorball, so it’s at least a tag with floorball in each innebandy article or website. That’s one way to grow the sport internationally and get the sport more recognized worldwide and get it into the Olympics. 

What is the best food they have in Vancouver?
I must say Ikea's meatballs. No I’m just kidding. Vancouver is much healthier than I thought. I had imagined more big people and more unhealthy food. But you see sushi restaurants all over, and people out running and walking everywhere you go. Of course there is more unhealthy food here than back in Sweden. But the best food in Vancouver is served at the Church-Beaudin house.

How did you end up in Vancouver?
I've always wanted to live in america and experience the lifestyle here. When I started to look into it I found that it was really easy to get a working visa in Canada and started to google ”floorball Canada”. So I found the Canadian floorball via social media and through a former coach of mine, David Jansson, I was introduced to Greg at BC Floorball. 
BC Floorball is taking major steps forward to grow the game the right way; through schools and hockey teams. They embrace new media, and focus on making Floorball attractive to the youth. The work is very hard right now, because every school has to be educated on what floorball is. The connection to floor hockey is a good and bad thing. On one hand floor hockey is in every school in BC, and the teachers are ok with it...because it's familiar. On the other hand, because floorball sticks, and the rules are different it takes a lot of energy to convince the schools that floorball is the same thing as floor hockey but more like an upgrade. 
BC Floorball gives structure to the sport of gym hockey here and from what I can tell floor hockey has no structure and they have these plastic sticks that don't work very well. 

Do you have any education in Floorball?
I've played for a long time and grew up with the sport as a big part of my life. I also has a licence to coach and a licence to referee.

What do you think about Floorball in Canada, how is it?
Since the sport is already big in Europe they don’t have to start from scratch here. They have a template to work from and it’s already a big, recognized sport in many European countries. We just need to put sticks in people hands and get people to get involved, learn the rules and we want to develop this sport with leagues, referees, clubs, training-camps etc..

How do you think we should grow the sport in Canada and the USA?
We should work with the kids and schools to get them interested and get them playing. Then they will grow up with the sport and in a few years they will be adults who has played floorball since they were young and could start some adult teams.

Best floorball memory in America so far?
I have 2 things that I want to tell you about. First I ran a ”real” floorball practice, the way we do it in Sweden, with some tactics, things to think about, goalie drills etc. and it was just awesome. You could see the players grow so much in just a 2 hour practice. There is a lot of potential in this country but we just have to use it and trigger it with some good coaches and find the players that really want to learn more about floorball. 
Then I have to tell you about our trip to Seattle. Me and Greg packed the van full with floorball equipment and drove down to Seattle. We found the Seattle Floorball group online and had been in touch with them, so we went down to have a practice with them. 
Since the border is pretty strict and floorball isn’t really a recognized sport we had to say that we’re going down to play a ball hockey game. 
We’re just waiting for when you can go across Canada/USA and say that we’re going to play a floorball game. That will be a big milestone for floorball in America!
So we went down there and had a look around downtown Seattle, which was super nice for me who’s never been there before. Then we headed up to Woodinville, just 30 minutes northeast of Seattle.
They have a really nice group people there! 10-20 players and a good level of floorball! There were a lot of Swedish players, but also some Finns and American players. We had a blast with a fun, fast game with excellent players.
After the floorball game we went to the local Mexican restaurant for some nachos, burritos and beer and had a really good conversation. They were all interested of growing the sport and some of them had good contacts with schools and community centers  It’s good for us to see that there are opportunities to grow the sport in the US as well and we will keep working with the Seattle floorball group to play games Vancouver-Seattle and also help them start up a Washington State Floorball Federation and help them grow the sport in schools and for kids.

Simon - Floorballcentral wants to thank You - and we wonder why we do not have 100'ds of folks like you over here in America already... The Kids need You.
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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!