Jill Roberts: The Cost of Loving Floorball in Australia
Floorball has been around in Australia now for over 20 years and although the number of players has been increasing gradually over time I would still class it as a little known sport. Those of us who do play still get excited when someone´s first response on hearing the word floorball isn´t, “What´s that?”
I first picked up a stick socially in 2005 and it didn´t take very long to become totally addicted. I was lucky enough to be playing at a venue with the then Australian coach and was asked to come down to a training session which in turn kicked off my national career.
Playing for the national team has been an amazing experience and has led me to countries I never thought I´d go to and experiences I´d never dreamed of. I have had the opportunity to travel to 8 different countries to represent Australia and have played for teams in Sweden, Switzerland and Canada to help develop my floorball knowledge and skills. The knowledge, experience and friendships that I have gained from these trips have been priceless. Although I would never change the floorball choices I´ve made, there are costs that players need to consider before they are able to step out onto the court.
Due to it being such a little known sport in Australia, sponsorship opportunities are extremely hard to come by which in turn leaves national players financially responsible for any tournament they are selected for. It is a real honour to play a sport for your country and it´s always disappointing to see quality floorball players unable represent their nation due to financial reasons.
To compete at a world championships players have to pay out for selection camps, tournaments, WFC Qualifiers and then the World championships itself. Due to the vast distance between players across Australia there are limited opportunities to meet as a squad and that is why it is important to attend as many national tournaments and camps as possible. Living in Perth, which is in Western Australia, players have to take a 5 hour flight to the east coast of Australia just to take part in tournaments and camps.
Loss of work is also something many players have to be aware of. Most jobs give you 4 weeks of vacation time a year which, putting selection camps and tournaments aside, is not even enough to cover a trip to both a WFC Qualifying tournament and a WFC. This forces players to then have to take leave without pay. So not only do they have to pay out for their trip but they also lose money as they can´t work.
I have been playing floorball at a national level for nearly 11 years now and on international tournaments alone I would have easily payed out A$50 000 (approx. €35,000). When you add in selection camps and national tournaments that number jumps to over $70 000 (approx. €50,000). Though I am now able to financially support myself for my first few years I was still at university as are many of the players. I remember it being quite challenging juggling full time university with, work and training commitments. Fortunately I had very supportive friends and family to help me fundraise some of the trips costs.
As Australian floorball looks to the future I hope the next generation of National players have better luck finding sponsorship so that players who are skilled enough to make the team are not restricted due to the costs involved. Luckily for me the love of the game and the feeling you get when you step out onto the court to represent your country has always outweighed the financial cost it takes to get there.
Photos: IFF Flickr