KOPER – Slovenia is gearing up for its first FISU World University Championship in over a decade, with organisers of this year’s FISU WUC Floorball ready to welcome the best student-athlete Floorballers to the picturesque city of Koper.
The coastal city in southern Slovenia will host a FISU Championship in the central European country for the first time in 12 years, after organisng the 11th edition of WUC Futsal back in 2008.
The region does however have vast experience in hosting other major university sports events, having organised six European Universities Championships in the past, the last being the 2019 Beach Volleyball and Water Polo Chamionships where over 200 participants enjoyed the Koper sunshine last summer.
The fact that it had been so long since hosting a FISU competition, combined with the fact that Floorball is still an emerging and lesser-known sport in the country, motivated the Slovenian University Sports Association, together with the local University Sports Association of Primorska, to bid for the 2020 Floorball Championship.
“We estimated that it was time for one big competition and decided on Floorball because it is an unknown sport in our region,” David Savron, President of the Local Organising Committee, told FISU.net. “We wanted to promote a sport discipline that is not yet present in our university area (Slovenian Istria) and popularise it.”
Floorball first began to develop in Slovenia in the 1990s, with the Floorball Federation of Slovenia only established in 2000. There are approximately just 500 registered players in the country, with Floorball played nationally only in the Gorenjska and Osrednjeslovenska regions, yet the sport is slowly gaining in popularity, no doubt helped by the organisation of this year’s Championship.
“Floorball in Slovenia is increasing in visibility and popularity, primarily through informal competitions and the inclusion of floorball in the subject of sports education in primary and secondary schools,” Savron explains.
“Two years ago, we first introduced Floorball as a recreational activity for University of Primorska students, and we promoted the sport at all major events. We are working hard to recognise the sport discipline and make it popular to attract those who may be interested in it.”
The Organising Committee has since 2018 been preparing for this year’s event, which will take place from June 24-28 at two separate locations in the city, the first being the 3 000-seater Arena Bonifika, and the second being the gym in Koper Primary School.
“The gym, situated next to Arena Bonifika, provides everything we need to organise the Championship,” Savron explains. “It has a capacity of 1 500 seats, has a comfortable atmosphere and is great for the needs of the competition.
“Arena Bonifika has hosted several major sporting events, including the 2013 European Basketball Championships, the 2016 European Dance and Cheerleading Championship, the FIG World Challenge Cup, ITF Taekwondo World Cup, IBFF World Championship, EHF European Championship and WDSF International Championship.”
As a test event for this year’s WUC Floorball Championship, the Arena hosted a four nations Floorball Championship in November, contested by the national men’s teams from neighbouring Austria, Hungary and Italy, with hosts Slovenia going unbeaten to take the overall honours.
Participants at this year’s WUC Floorball – the ninth edition on the FISU calendar following the previous event in Lodz, Poland two years ago – will be accommodated in the neighbouring town Ankaran in the seaside Adria Ankaran Resort, a stone’s throw away from the warm waters of the Adriatic Sea, where local cuisine, swimming areas, sports facilities and wellness activities can be enjoyed.
Following the day’s sporting action, participants and visiting spectators alike will also find plenty to do in Koper.
“In addition to the beautiful old town, Koper has much more to offer,” Savron says. “The beautifully-landscaped city beach makes it possible to swim. Koper also offers many recreational facilities for beach volleyball, running, football, basketball, tennis, cycling, water sports and other activities. The Koper promenade offers many beautiful locations where you can sit down for coffee and enjoy the beautiful view of the Slovenian Sea. In addition to pubs and good restaurants, you can also relax in the big city park.”
With the tournament now just four months away, Savron is looking forward to the positive spin-offs the city, the local university as well as the future of Floorball will gain from this summer’s Championship.
“For the city Koper, hosting WUC Floorball means promoting both the city Koper and the University of Primorska,” he said. “We hope that students will love our place and the university, and thus come back as tourists or as students. One of our goals is to establish a Floorball club based on this, so that our region will also be represented in the national championship.”
For more information about this summer’s event, please visit http://wucfloorball2020.com/.