Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our Main slam dunk on Special Olympic Floorball

The World's largest sporting event 2013 was the World Games Special Olympics in Korea. This could of course also be at question depending upon how you measure the word "largest", but with 111 participating nations - let's just agree that this was an utterly big thing.

This time, as you know, 8 nations participated at the Floorball demo at the games.
Let us now sum up what is remarkable in this respect...
Much of this here is based upon what our friend Mr. Steen Houman wrote at his own blog in Danish - Mr. Houman is the head for the resource group that took SO Floorball to the World Games in Korea.

This is a few key points from what he writes:
First, it becomes clear that Denmark early on took the lead in developing Floorball for players with special needs related to the Special Olympics.
Second, without great support from both SO organizations as well as the International Floorball Federation (IFF) - this would not have gone as well as it did.
Third, the people involved in the organization of the participation of Floorball for these games had an aim that - for next World Games they should grow the participation to 16-20 Floorball teams in Austria 2017... well, some top officials within the SO organization - did now, during the games, hint in the direction that they want to see 30 Nations participating in the World SO Games doing Floorball in 2017.
Fourth, many participants and voices expressed their joy how well the Floorball competition went - with no complaints, no whining, and the use of very experienced referees. This - of course a result from the fact that Floorball at Special Olympics is run like any other normal Floorball game and the refs are already experts on their "own" game - and they do not need to learn or "know in their spine" the rules of a "propriety special" game.

Let's compare Floorball to Poly hockey for a few lines. Poly hockey, a special version of Floor Hockey is the designated Special Olympic game used as the main "indoor Hockey emulation".

We say poly hockey has the following flaws (or at least weaker properties) as in comparison to Floorball at the SO:
A) It is a propriety game - just as in any propriety software - if we now compare it to the digital world and this means:
1) Poly Hockey needs its specific hard ware - that means investments must be made into specific boards nets and protective equipment - Floorball use generic Floorball equipment used in the larger Floorball community. This means we have an infrastructure for poly Hockey in place - and this also becomes a hurdle or an obstacle to have Floorball introduced very fast - since if Floorball instantly would replace Poly Hockey - all material today used for poly hockey - and existing investments - could be seen as just worthless. This will keep poly Hockey in place for several years to come - just due to economic reasons. Further the complexity of setting up a Poly Hockey venue - is not even comparable to set up a Floorball venue - it is like comparing on the magnitude of hours - instead of in minutes. And our own opinion here is that the players should play, instead of building venues... Dude!
2) Poly Hockey has not the back up from a big International federation like Floorball do - this means all printed instructions and material like lesson plans etc are readily available for Floorball at a low cost or for free ... But similar instructional material - has to be propriety made for poly hockey, something that makes the game more expensive and complax to run.
3) As mentioned before, referees are more experienced in Floorball since this game is played at a much larger scale than poly hockey world wide
4) Promotion material to attract players with special needs to Floorball versus Poly Hockey - dude - go to YouTube and just look up what you find - remember - Floorball has still a name problem and is known under many different names, like Floorball, Innebandy, Unihockey, Salibandy, Saha, Florbalu etc... Poly Hockey may mainly be posted as Floor Hockey too
5) Role models - Floorball has a large cadre of very good International athletes that may act as Role models - Poly Hockey and the SO version must mainly find its role models within their own domain - that is nothing wrong with this - to have star players within the Special Olympic movement. But Floorball may offer both role models in the SO movement but also at the world stage for regular Floorball (then of course there is no thing like regular Floorball - we will touch base on that later too).
6) Inclusion, already today Floorball is played with either pure Special Olympic teams or teams with players classified as regular players and Special Olympian athletes as a regular club activity in some countries
7) Growth, it would be easy to grow Special Olympic Floorball with many many Floorball clubs through out the world - "regular" Floorball Clubs only have to start a new SO section or a unified project. This would also provide many many Floorball clubs with - well deserved good will - by doing the right thing for their own community.
8) This growth could also be reciprocal, it would not be a hard thing to start Special Olympic Floorball groups for instance in both the USA, Canada and for instance South America (these three nations have expressed a sincere interest in Floorball during the World Games - and India said for instance that they easily could bring on 20.000 SO players in a sweep - according to Mr. Houmans post) - these SO teams could later on add regular Floorball teams too to their club activities - This way the Special Olympic movement could take on a new role as "kick-starting" a new sport on track to go Olympic. Amazing huh?
9) There is no thing like a Special Olympic version of Floorball nor a regular version - all rules used are the same. There are no accommodations done for Special Olympic athletes, they play the game as everyone else do. The reason Floorball was played 3 on 3 with goalies at the 2013 World games was more a logistic feature as compared to any kind of an accommodation - but it also showcased how extremely flexible Floorball may be.
10) This is our own conclusion, Floorball has an eye injury rate that has been suggested to be in-between tennis and squash (racket-ball in the US/Canada). If we compare to youth Ice Hockey, their levels of eye injuries are close to zero thanks to the use of face-masks. NB we do not discuss concussions here - that costed the USA some 76 billions in health related costs just a few years back...
Floorballcentral's opinion is that Special Olympic Floorball should always be played with good eye protection. Not face-masks  but the fancy glasses that many professional Floorballer athletes use. This due to two reasons - we want to set a good example - we want to look cool - and we do not want one single eye injury for any player involved in Floorball - it is a matter of both safety and the image of Floorball.

Our vision for future Special Olympic Floorball - use - therefore protective eye wear.

Opinions? Feel free to feed em in ;-D

Opps! There is one severely bad thing about this post - did anyone ask the players and what do they say? Hmm let's see if we may figure this out too...

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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!