7.000 players from 19 countries. The biggest floorball tournament of the world, the Czech Open, is starting in it’s 24th edition. Organizer Martin Vaculik explains this incredible success story and talks about a very specific goal left to reach.
Floorballmag: Martin, the next Czech Open edition is approaching. What top clubs will participate?
Martin Vaculik: Top clubs from Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are traditional guests at Czech Open every year. However, this year we have prepared some new ones. We are very happy to greet at once four World Champions from Sweden: Rasmus Enström, Alexander Galante Carlström, Martin Östholm and Patrik Malmström. Swedish giants Pixbo and Falun will fight against the teams from the Helvetian cross country the famous Wiler-Ersigen and Köniz. The icing on the cake is a newly formed Finnish team, Erä Viikingit, whose performance will be very interesting to see for the first time on the international level.
Right, Erä Viikingit, the fusion of two finnish elite clubs? Perhaps a secret tournament favourite?
Of course, players in this new team are very experienced and meet the highest international floorball standards. Nevertheless, it is their first test on the international level as a team and we are looking forward to see them in action and mainly in the matches against their rivals from Sweden.
Actually, how do you make these top elite clubs coming to Prague each and every summer? How does the process work?
It’s a whole year’s work. We communicate with the elite teams from Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic a lot. The backbone of all is our longterm partnership with Pixbo, Dalen and Wiler-Ersigen. But each year we change the finnish participants. Erä Viikingit is a new project and we’re happy to have them here. We’re also glad, that national teams from developing countries register. Them competing against elite league clubs might seem a bit awkward, but it supports the development in those countries.
How many teams will participate at the tournament in total?
The 24th Czech Open is going to break records again. This summer we have 273 teams from 19 countries coming. That means over 7.000 floorball players and fans will enjoy their time in Prague.
And of course, you have some proper off-court program for them as well? Right?
Sure, but summer Prague itself is already an amazing experience for outcomers. Though we are working hard on creating the great tournament atmosphere and making our social and cultural program better every year. This time participants can look forward to tournament parties on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in three different places: Karlové Lázně, Andělka and traditional Lavka, respectively. The Museum of the City of Prague and other Prague institutions will also welcome floorball teams during the Czech Open. And of course, our main floorball partners Unihoc and Zone have also prepared juicy discounts for everyone.
How did the organization process changed during the years? What effect did digitalization have on it?
Times change and we have to change with them. You can’t imagine any modern event without sufficient media coverage. That is why we develop this branch in Top Class Sport Event (organizer; ed.n.) by using social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote our tournaments. This year we have also started online streaming of the matches from the tournament halls. At the international youth tournament Prague Games, which took place in July, video streaming was established from six halls. That is another thing everyone should look forward to at the upcoming Czech Open.
The Czech Open are the biggest floorball tournament in the world? Are there any goals left to your team?
It’s difficult to reach a higher level with the tournament itself, that’s true. But if there is a deficit, it’s the quality of our halls. We’re working intensively on building an arena of european standards in Prague. A hall with a capacity of 3.000 to 5.000 people would help the tournament a lot. And actually it’s not just a dream. It’s a goal we want to reach during the next five years.