Swedish Student Selected to American National Floorball Team
Sport Popular in Europe, Described as 'Hockey without the Ice'
November 7, 2013
Patrick Dousa shows the lightweight stick he uses in floorball. The WC freshman made the U.S. National Floorball Team, which begins World Cup qualifying this winter.
Football, basketball and baseball are the big three sports in the United States. In Sweden, it’s soccer, ice hockey and floorball.
Yes, floorball — “hockey without the ice” — is the craze from youth competition through senior leagues.
Patrick Dousa, a second-semester freshman majoring in marketing at Wilmington College from Stockholm, Sweden, recently earned a spot on the National Floorball Team, not Sweden’s, but America’s.
You see, he had the good fortune of being born in the United States before his family returned to Sweden.
Possessing dual citizenship, he met the nationality qualification, in addition to impressing a national team scout with his floorball skills during a tournament earlier this fall in Westchester, New York.
“My family is Swedish. I’m the only one with American citizenship,” Dousa said, noting his family resided in Dallas until he was four years old. His father, Lars, Dousa, is a 1985 WC graduate. “My dad is an alumni here,” he said. “He told me such good things about the school — he loved it here and so do I.”
Dousa was especially pleased to learn the College already had eight Swedes when he arrived last January.
He explained he was “pretty late” to floorball as a youth, but, once he learned the game, he was hooked. “Like most Swedish children, I played soccer and also ice hockey, but when I saw my brother play floorball, I thought it was really cool.”
He initially used floorball for off-season training for hockey.
“I tried to practice hockey in our basement, but I was really practicing floorbalI. I thought floorball was a lot more fun than hockey — plus I was better at it, so I chose it over hockey. I got my dribbling skills from hockey.”
In Sweden, schools do not sponsor athletic teams as they do in the United States, so leagues in the major sports provide youth and teens with structured environments for training and competition.
Dousa continued to embrace the game and, as a 17-year-old junior player, a senior league team drafted him, which gave him an opportunity to compete with players predominantly 19 and older.
“That's when I got serious,” he said.
Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Czech Republic constitute the upper echelon of floorball teams, Dousa added. It is a fall/winter season sport played on a semi-soft surface about two-thirds the size of a hockey rink with goals similar in size to that sport. The rubber ball is close to the size of a tennis ball.
He said the “fast game” features a contact level similar to that of soccer and only the goalie wears a mask.
“If you have indoor shoes and a stick, you’re good to go,” he said, noting his position is right forward, where he is expected to be a goal scorer.
Dousa has enjoyed explaining his sport to his American peers at WC, but the first question is how he’s on the American team.
“Most don’t understand why I have American citizenship, but they think it’s cool I made the team — even if they don’t really know much about what floorball is,” he said.
Dousa said most of his national team counterparts, some of whom are of Swedish decent, reside in larger U.S. cities where they regularly play on floorball teams, so, since Wilmington is not one of those, he was encouraged to simply, “Stay in shape — come prepared.” Indeed, he occasionally worked out this fall with the College’s men’s soccer team.
Dousa said his ultimate floorball dream would be for his American team to play Sweden in the biennial World Cup finals next December in Gothenburg, Sweden. But first the U.S. team must be successful in the qualifying rounds, which start this winter when Dousa and the team travels to Toronto to play the Canadian and Jamaican teams.
"It will be an honor to wear the American National Team's jersey," he said.