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October 27, 2015 by Steen Houman
I have met with John Liljelund on several occasions, and must admit IFF have a person with a very big floorballheart.
Together with the rest of the IFF office, they seem to work all the time, in order to promote the sport.
We have conducted some seminars together, and he is always ready to share his knowledge of the sport, to those he is working with.
Keep up the good work.
Interview of John Liljelund, the secretary of the International Floorball Federation
John Liljelund is the current secretary of the IFF and he is also still active as a floorball player. . He discusses about the future of floorball, its development and the difficulties to overcome.
The interview was initially done for Floorball Hebdo to be translated in french.
1. Could you introduce yourself to the french readers of floorball hebdo ?
I’m a 50 year old Finnish man, who lives just outside Helsinki in Espoo. I’m a licentiate of political science by education and have a wife and two children, who all play Floorball.
I have worked at the Finnish Science Academy as a researcher, a Nordic Modelling & Analytics Area Director at the marketing research company ACNielsen.
2. What is your floorball background ?
I have moved into Floorball from Ice Hockey in 1986, but have played 3 vs 3 – floorball in school already in the late 70’s. I have played on the elite level in Finland and Sweden as a goalie from 1987 – 2004. Now I’m only playing with my old boys team in M35, M40, M45 and M50.
I have also been a coach since 1991 and have a professional coach degree from the Finnish Sports Institute. I’ve been a coach for ladies league teams, men’s league teams, the Finnish National Team (1995-1999) and Men U19 (2002-2003) and both played and coached in the Euro Cup.
Lately, when working for IFF, I have coached juniors in club teams and the SSBL boy 1996 age group as the head coach. I’m also been a part of coaching goalies in the company Goaliebase the last years.
3. What the position of IFF secretary consist in and what is your average day like ?
I’m responsible for the IFF operations and the IFF Office. We are at the moment 7 employees and my personal responsibilities are the administration of the IFF Central Board and the Executive Committee, the IFF Development work, the Floorball equipment, Marketing and TV and the relations t the International Sports Community.
As I travel a lot in my work, there are no real average day. In the office it is a lot of emails to answer and plannings of events or campaigns. Then, there are a lot of meetings and presentations.
In events, the day starts before 8 and ends well after midnight as my responsibility is to lead the IFF operations, with meetings with the organizer and the IFF operations, TV work, meeting with guests and VIP’s , interviews and trouble shooting.
4. What are the short/mid term and long terms main objective of the IFF right now ?
The long term objective of the IFF is to have the sport on the Olympic Games and as many multi-sport events as possible in the future. Here the candidacy of Paris is very interesting for us, as Floorball could be an interesting sport in 2024.
The short term objective is to develop the sport on the national level, both concerning the game and the organization running it, to be able to meet the IOC requirements for participation in the Olympics, either on the Sports Initiation Program or even on the Sports Program some day.
5. Floorball was not selected to be a demonstration sport in Tokyo 2020. Why it is so hard to convince the olympic comitee ? What would make the difference ? Are you planning to apply for the Olympics games 2024 ?
A total of 26 IF’s were seeking for a position on the Additional Events program for Tokyo, so it was not a big surprise that we were not selected for the shortlist. However is served as a good rehearsal for us for the future and we also got a good feedback from the Sports Community.
Floorball is a new sport and as it is still in the early stages in a number of countries we need to be realistic what can be achieved if the sport is not very big in the country in question.
It is hard to convince the IOC, since it is not only about including a new sport, but also that some sport will need to give space to let in a sport that needs so much space in number of athletes.
As we are a summer sport, we are looking for the IOC process for the 2024 Olympic games application process, when the IOC will present it. So we will apply for the 2024 and try to enter the Sports Initiation Program before that and also enter the Youth Olympic games.
6. Right now what are (if there are any) the current limitation(s) for floorball development ?
I would say there are three major limitations:
1) The limited availability of venues to play the sport in – we need to adapt to this and introduce a 3v3 game to get new countries to play the sport, as a compliment to the normal 5v5 version.
2) The difficulty to show the visibility of the sport to the large general public, which consumes sport. We need more visibility to build the awareness of the Floorball and build the brand of the sport.
3) The fact that there are a number of countries where the National Association is put under pressure by the NOC or national Sports Confederation, like in France, where the Floorball Federation needs to join another association
7. Portugal, Iceland, Jamaica, Thailand, Georgia are starting the floorball adventure. But, where is located the future of floorball to you, is there any promising area ?
There is actually a lot of other countries as well. This year we are talking with Laos, Cameroon, Hong Kong, China, Colombia and a number of other countries where the sport is played. There is over 80 countries where Floorball is played in one form or the other…
Africa, Asia and Central and South America will be were the sport will grow most in the next ten years.
8. On the other hand, is there any room left for development in the «big 4» ?
There is always room left to develop the sport in the EFT countries, CZE, FIN, SWE and SUI. In Finland, the federation has just approved a strategy, in which Floorball should be the biggest sport in Finland in 2028. The sport can grow, but it requires different game formats, to get kids to play and also more recreational game formats.
I think there are similar ideas in the other EFT countries as well…
9. Will we see you in Amsterdamned next year ?
You have to remember that I’m an old guy and every year it gets harder to play on an ok level.
But I think, if our team FC Hammer, consisting of mostly old boys has been 21st in 2013 and then 4th 2014, we will try to get a medal from this event as well – so probably you will see me on the floor…
Thank you John !
You can follow John Liljelund on twitter @PiLiljelund