If you aren’t familiar with the sport of floorball, UCF student Liam Williamsson aims to change that. He’s passionate about the game, which is similar to hockey, and he wants to develop more awareness of the sport. He’ll get his chance to do just that when he competes in the upcoming Men’s World Floorball Championship.
The mechanical engineering major is part of the U.S. national team that will travel to Helsinki, Finland, as one of 16 countries participating in the global competition, which kicks off Dec. 3 and concludes Dec. 11.
Playing in the championship is a dream come true for Williamsson, who will also serve as the team’s media ambassador at the event.
“It feels amazing,” Williamsson says. “I am honored to represent my country in Helsinki, Finland, and to play against the best players in the world.”
Floorball is popular in Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, which are the founding countries of the International Floorball Federation. If you watch a floorball match, you’ll notice it looks similar to field or street hockey — two teams, each consisting of five field players and a goalkeeper, use sticks to maneuver a ball across a court to score goals against the opposing team. However, in floorball the sticks are lighter and shorter and the ball resembles a whiffle ball. Game action is also less aggressive than floor hockey so protective gear isn’t required.
The IFF estimates that floorball is played in more than 80 countries worldwide, and close to 75 of those countries are IFF members. The IFF has also created a modified version of the game that is played in the Special Olympics.
For Williamsson, floorball isn’t just an international sport; it’s a family pastime. His dad, Daniel, grew up playing floorball in Sweden and he founded the Orlando Vikings, a floorball league for youth and adults in Central Florida. Dan also serves as the USA Floorball regional director for Florida.
Williamsson has played floorball since he was a child, and he sharpened his skills under his father’s coaching. In turn, Williamsson has coached youth leagues, and he’s participated in a variety of tournaments over the years. Most recently, he played in the 2021 Golden Gate Cup in California and he brought home a gold medal from the 2020 U.S. Nationals in Birmingham. His siblings are also floorball fanatics and have earned their own accolades in the sport.
“My sister plays for the Women’s Under-19 Development Team and my brother won the Under-14 Youth Nationals with the Orlando Vikings in Utah this summer,” Williamsson says. “They are proud of me reaching my goal and I hope I inspire them to continue to do their best.”
Williamsson also hopes to inspire UCF Knights to pick up a stick and play the game. He plans to start a floorball team at UCF and hopes to create a collegiate series with the help of floorball players at other U.S. universities. He says it doesn’t take any special training or skills to play.
“Ice hockey skills and good athleticism can help you get up to speed quickly, but you really don’t need anything else other than a floorball stick to try it,” he says. “Floorball is a much more accessible sport than ice hockey, but still provides the same type of game indoors without skates.”
Until he can build a dream team of Knights, Williamsson will live the dream of playing on the world championship team. He said he’s proud to represent UCF at the global game.
“Being able to represent UCF in my sport is an amazing feeling,” he says. “I love the community at UCF and the people that I meet every day.”
If you want to try your hand at floorball, you can get involved with the Orlando Vikings. Their next season starts in March. You can also watch the Men’s World Floorball Championships live on the IFF YouTube channel, beginning on Dec. 3.