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Floorball on the rise in Burkina Faso – 12.01.2018

Göran Björkdahl has worked with development in Africa since 1983 and has lived in West Africa for 29 years. The 64-year old floorball enthusiast works as a programme officer at the embassy of Sweden in Ouagadougou where he manages Sida´s development cooperation support within environment and agriculture. Göran first came across floorball already in the 70s and has started up floorball groups in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 1998 and in Dakar, Senegal in 2003. In his writing below, he talks about the development of floorball in the area.

Göran Björkhdal (on the right) introducing floorball at the Nakamtenga village in March 2017.

Economic wise, Burkina Faso is one of world´s poorest countries - but at the same time it has an incredibly warm, friendly and funny population. I introduced floorball in Burkina Faso in 1998 with a group of friends who have continued to play on and off ever since. In 2015 some of us suggested to the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Education to introduce floorball at a larger scale - in public schools and in marginalized neighbourhoods in the capital Ouagadougou. We came to the conclusion that floorball is actually well suited to Burkina Faso, since most schools have basketball courts and because floorball is well adapted to girls, who don´t practice sport much. Floorball would also be an opportunity for youth to get used to take active part in an organized (team) context outside the family and the school.

Floorball being played in Burkina Faso.

With the sticks and other material offered by the IFF (a big THANK YOU!) and what some of us have contributed privately, we´ve started up 8 clubs during 2017. The response and the enthusiasm from the youth is absolutely fantastic. Every club has a coach who leads practices 1 to 3 times a week. The tournaments - we´ve organized four so far - motivate the players and brings lots of joy and pride. 

A league and a national federation should be in place around February 2018. The Federation will then form what many of the players are eagerly waiting for: the national teams! To put on the jersey of the national team and represent the country would feel absolutely incredible for the players.

The experience of the floorball introduction is so far very positive and we definitely look forward to an expansion in Burkina Faso. The main positives so far:
•    Lots of fun & incredibly positive atmosphere within and between the groups
•    Boys and girls get well needed physical exercise and social training
•    Particularly girls get a boost in self-confidence
•    Youth get to meet new people and see new places outside school and family
•    Youth are given specific tasks in the clubs and learn how to function in an association (team)
•    The principles of inclusion - respect – fair play is stressed and has contributed to the positive atmosphere
•    A positive "floorball family" atmosphere exists between the clubs
•    Being part of an inclusive team, having fun together, playing tournaments as well as nurturing the dream of representing your country in the national team seem to be the main motivating factors for the floorball youth.

The constraints are primarily the following:
•    There are fewer girls than boys & a higher dropout among girls (solution: separate girls teams, specific girl tournaments, closer contact with the parents!)
•    Poor quality of the basketball courts´ concrete surface - but the same for all (solution: organize the tournaments at the best courts)
•    Difficult to finance shoes, team shirts, transport, tournaments in such an extremely poor country (solution: search for sponsors)
•    Extremely hot climate during most of the year (solution: play late afternoons or install lights)

Floorball introduction in the school Marien Ngouabi, Ouagadougou, in May 2016

In the future we also hope to engage a non-governmental organization in order to initiate educational and social activities for the floorball youth groups. There is so much that could be done to help develop and stimulate these wonderful boys and girls! Debates or lectures on specific youth topics, homework support centers, social charity etc could be organized with the groups while giving clear roles of responsibilities to the girls and boys - which would improve school results and help the youth grow as individuals and good team players. Therefore, we´ll soon start searching for sponsors for modest financial support.

- Göran Björkdahl