With just 80 days to go until the first Floorball match played at the 2022 World Games, we’ll be looking at the next team in our countdown that will compete in July in Birmingham, Alabama; Finland!
The journey to the World Games in 2022 began at 2020 Floorball World Championships in Helsinki last December where the top 5 finishing countries, top AOFC teams and top AMER teams would qualify alongside the hosts UNITED STATES for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
Sweden, Finland, Czech republic and Swiss were the first to qualify followed by Thailand who beat the Philippines in a nervous shootout for 13th place and qualification in Birmingham and Canada which finished 12th and was the highest ranked AMER country. Latvia completed the World Games lineup by beating Norway for 5th place.
Finland is the bronze medalist of the previous World Games in Wrocław, in 2017 losing to Switzerland in the semi-finals and beating the Czech Republic for 3rd place. They passed the group stage with two victories against the Czech Republic (4-2) and Poland (5-0). In the semi-finals, the Finns faced a tough Swiss team and came up short, being beaten 5-2. The bronze medal game was very well controlled and managed, with Finland beating the Czechs 2-0 and showing strong, especially in defence.
Expectations as always for a country like Finland are almost always gold at a major event and bronze may have been a disappointment. This will only fuel the hunger and desire to do even better this year in Birmingham, especially if they do end up facing Sweden in the final. Recently, at the 2020 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, the Swedes managed to beat the Finns on home soil to become world champions. Finland’s thirst and will to seek revenge and become World Games champions has never been stronger.
It was a learning and growing experience and a tournament for Finland at the 2017 World Games, who finished as champions at the previous World Championships in 2016. They hope to be better this year and win gold for the first time!
Finland will compete in the men’s WFCQ 2022 EUR1 event in Valmiera, Latvia in May for the World Championships in November 2022. So they will have a warm-up, an international competition before the games in July to solidify their squad and tactics before Birmingham. This should help improve team cohesion and unity ahead of the World Games.
City of Lastikka is one of the main players in the Finnish team having represented them at the previous two world championships in 2018 (where Finland became world champions!) and 2020 (where they finished second). For the 2017 World Games, he was not part of a very competitive Finnish team at the age of 19. Now, however, Ville is one of Finland’s bright young stars. Watch the interview of Adam Troy with Ville Lastikka of the Finnish team, as part of our series of interviews on the road to the World Games to find out more about his journey and his hopes for the next World Games tournament.
What will Finland do at the World Games in Alabama? Only time will tell, but they are sure to be one of the favorites with a talented, experienced and revenge-hungry side (especially against Sweden!)
The previous edition in 2017 in Wrocław was won by Sweden, beating Switzerland in the final, 7-5. Finland came in 3rd, followed by the Czech Republic in 4th, the United States in 5th and Poland in 6th.
Keep up to date with all things World Games 2022 using the hashtags #floorball #RoadtoBHM #TWG2022
Photos by Martin Flousek