Mr President, hello and thank you for giving us the opportunity to have this interview. We hope you are all right and we extend greetings from all Italian floorball fans.
1) You are President of the International Floorball Federation (IFF) since 1996. What has changed in almost 25 years?
We have passed through different periods of development. In 1996 until 2008 we grew from 16 to 47 member associations, and we were seeking recognition (from IOC and others like World Games and NOC) and we built up the IFF organization, in 1996 we moved IFF HQ to Stockholm, with one employee.
In 2005 the Secretary General was a fulltime employee, and we moved IFF HQ to Finland and Helsinki, and set up a professional office with more employees. In 2000 we got recognition by GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federation), and in 2008 we got IOC provisional recognition.
In the next phase, in 2009 until 2020, we got in 2011 full IOC recognition, and we had as objectives to join Multi Sports Events. We grew from 47 to 74 member associations.
In 2013 we became a member of IWGA (The World Games) and were on the 2017 World Games with huge success in Poland, and are on the next edition in 2022 in USA, Birmingham Alabama. We have also been accepted to other vital Multi Sports Events such as the SEAGAMES (South East Asia Games) first time as demo in 2013, and now in 2021 Floorball is on the program of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
2) Mr President, IFF has almost 5000 clubs, more than 350,000 licensed players and over 3 million amateur practitioners, is recognized by the CIO and has participated in the Word Games. When do you think floorball will be present at the Olympic games?
IFF is now together with all stakeholders of Floorball, that is the 74 member associations, the athletes, players, officials and partners, rewriting our Strategy from 2021 until 2032. We have to fill up the growth pockets, that is where we are weak. One big question in the strategy until 2032 how important is the joining of the Olympic Games?
I believe it is important, but we need to take one step at a tme, and hence joining continental Games, such as The European Games, the Asian Games, African Games and Pan American Games come first, and then we will inevitably also join the OG. The YOG (Youth OG) are maybe even more important as a step before the OG.
If we then will be able to join the OG before 2032 I cannot tell, but we are working hard on it!
3) Floorballmaniatv, an Italian website, and FIUF, headed by its President Giorgio Rambaldi, are trying hard to increase visibility and also grow as a Federation, both in numbers and as an organization. What do you think of the Italian floorball and the work that has been done in the last years?
President Rambaldi and team are doing an excellent job, both in promoting Floorball and taking active part in international Floorball, for example Italy has successfully staged a number of IFF events such as qualifications of WFC.
I also get from my Italian friends within the IOC and GAISF and ARISF that Floorball is getting much more known and popular in Italy. It is good that there are more clubs all over Italy is important, and also working closely with Italian Olympic Committee CONI.
4) IFF is working on its strategy and we think that soon there will be some news which to some extent could change the way we play floorball. Which do you think will be the most important changes?
I believe the definition of our Key priorities, such as how to work on awareness and visibility, and how our sport is presented, how is the WFC built up, with the playing time and how many formats, players on the field, to mention a few things will be developed in the future strategy until 2032.
Import is also how to support our 74 member countries, in what fields do you need services, and a major one how to close the gab between more developed countries and the countries that are still developing and growing. We need more countries in different clusters fighting for medals on the WFC.
5) How much important are the multisport events in promoting floorball? In your opinion which one will be the next countries to join the world floorball family?
Multi Sports events are very important, because it is during these events, such as World Games, and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, where we can showcase Floorball to all the National Olympic Committees, and show all the benefits with Floorball. Asian Games and European Games I believe are next in line and important.
6) How is working IFF under the disability issue, and which will be the next steps?
IFF is affiliated with International Special Olympics and we had in 2013 in Korea 8 teams, in 2017 in Austria we had over 40 teams from over 30 countries, and we were already the biggest sport within Special Olympics, so this is huge and important.
I am also of the opinion that in order to become a recognized sport within the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) it is important that all 74 member associations of IFF continue to work with for example wheelchair Floorball in a very good way which many countries do, and hence co- operation with IPC will grow stronger both on international as well as national level, and this will be a win- win for IFF and IPC.
In some countries SO and IPC collaboration is already fully integrated between national Floorball association and national Paralympic committees.
7) How is going the GoGirls project to promote the "pink floorball" and the "women empowerment" in floorball activities? What do you thing about the "mixed floorball" (as is played in Italy, and also France for example)?
GoGirls and equality work and working for better inclusion is vital, because we need more players and voluntary leaders, and cannot exclude women in ways which are the fact today.
We need on IFF and national levels include women more, because in some countries, also the big countries, far too few players are women. I think the biggest chance for success is promoting Floorball that we treat women and men the same, will speed up the development process for Floorball in general.
So equality and inclusion are key factors for continued speedy progress and development.
Thank you so much President, good Job.