Lidwien Reehuis: Not just a player
The first time I touched a floorball stick was when I was around 15 years old. There was a high school tournament in my hometown Groningen and I participated together with a schoolmate who actually played floorball. I got infected with the floorball ’virus‘ 5 years later. I was then a student and some friends of mine wanted to try an ’unknown‘ sport at the ACLO, the student sports organisation of the University of Groningen. I was also curious so I joined them in playing floorball and I never left. The openness, the internationality of the sport and the people made me stay.
In 2008, Czech Republic, World Floorball Championships (WFC) finals in Prague. I had only played for half a year when my good friend and teammate Susanne Spijkerman and I travelled to the O2 arena to see the best of floorball for the first time in our lives. We already heard that floorball was big in the countries with a great (ice)hockey history, but we both could not imagine what floorball on that level would look like. While seeing Finland winning an epic battle against Sweden and hearing the audience go wild, I really got hit by some floorball lightning. This is big! This sport is epic! The audience is epic! And that was the moment I started dreaming about joining a WFC as a player and having the same events and playing level in the Netherlands.
Back at home I put some of my dreams into actions. I started to train a lot: with my team, on my own in the sports hall to practise skills and in the gym. I utilised YouTube movies with floorball goalkeepers. I tried to copy their moves and to reason out what they were doing in different situations. That‘s mainly how I learned to be a goalkeeper and probably many players from small floorball countries have done the same thing.
Besides training a lot, I joined the board of my student‘s floorball club with the ideology to put floorball in the spotlight so more students would join. We gave clinics, organised small tournaments, reached out to the local media, etc. I also started to have practices to the young kids who played in a floorball club nearby. It was really nice to combine my studying (Psychology) with sports on so many levels. I even wrote my Master‘s thesis about a floorball related topic (Title: Performing under Pressure; The case of goalkeepers in penalty taking in floorball).
Since then I have played several international games and had the amazing experience to join 3 WFC‘s. Every time I realize that I can talk about these experiences with my future grandchildren when floorball has taken over the Dutch Sports TV. Playing floorball on an international level gave me so many good things as a person, that I want to give back to the sport. So since 2015 I am active as a general board member of the Netherlands Floorball and Unihockey Association (NeFUB).
I believe that floorball has a great connection with the Dutch passion for sports and without a doubt floorball will become very popular someday. But we have a long way to go before we get there. We have to work on the stability and continuity of the association and the clubs, make developmental plans on several topics, keep on spreading the sport, keep the competition running, keep the national teams running, keep contact with the National Olympic Committee etc. But it is all about taking steps forward and even the small steps count.
I think, being a player for the national team and at the same time being a part of the board is not always that easy. Firstly, because both activities take a lot of time and is also combined with going to work every day (and having a personal life). It is always about looking for a balance.
Secondly, I have two perspectives on topics related to national teams which sometimes clash. From a national team player‘s perspective, I know that we have to pay everything (training, traveling and accommodation) on our way to WFCQ‘s and WFC‘s. These are serious amounts we are talking about. So I can understand that national team players sometimes feel that the association does not do enough to make it easier for them. On the other hand, as a board member, I see that we work our asses off and do not have many possibilities to make it easier for the players to fulfil their wishes. And that is sometimes hard to explain to national teams who inspire the kids and generate a lot of exposure in the local media.
On the positive side, I can add a unique perspective to the board meetings. I make sure that there is always a national team related topic on the agenda that is worth to discuss about. Another thing that makes being an international and a board member very interesting, is that I had the honour to join the IFF Athletes Commission (ATC).
Participating in the ATC gives me many insights in the work and decision processes of the IFF, which helps me to inform the Dutch board and clubs correctly. I would recommend smaller floorball countries to participate in some way in the IFF committees, because the lines get shorter and it is easier to communicate and understand each other.
Finally, I wish that floorball unites the world, shares its openness and I wish that everybody can get the opportunity to have great experiences playing it. I hope that we as a Dutch floorball community and also as an international floorball community can keep going hand in hand and work together on a worldwide strong sport.
- Lidwien Reehuis
Photo: WFC 2015/LOC