The National Hockey League playoffs end this week, and 29-year-old entrepreneur Juha Mikkola hopes to continue making inroads in Canada’s hockey-mad culture by selling floorball as an off-ice activity that helps players improve their skills.
NHL stars such as Henrik and Daniel Sedin grew up playing this European version of floor hockey, the second-ranked sport behind soccer in Sweden. It’s a limited-contact sport, which means fewer injuries, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy equipment and rent facilities.
It can be played year round on just about any gym floor.
But Mr. Mikkola’s lobbying is not his end goal. By helping to raise the profile and popularity of the sport, he plans to increase demand for the floorball equipment his Toronto-based company, FloorBallPro Inc., imports and distributes, such as sticks and the flowball, which can be fired at up to 190 kilometres an hour. His supplier, former Toronto Maple Leafs star Borje Salming, owns one of the world’s largest manufacturers of floorball equipment and accessories.
“We’re the importer and marketer for the product but a lot of the sales go through other companies such as Marchant’s School Sport Ltd. and T-Litzen Sports Ltd. (which sell to schools),” Mr. Mikkola said. “These companies are out there promoting (the sport) as well, mostly in the school system.”
For Mr. Powers, the final step in making floorball a permanent fixture on the Canadian sports scene is governance, the establishment of national and provincial associations that will help set up and run championship level competitions.
Floorball’s success to date has primarily come at the high school level with more than 400 schools across Canada offering it as an intramural sport that both boys and girls can play. Mr. Mikkola has established relationships with retailers such as Source for Sports, in addition to generating sales through his web site.
Logo from FloorballPro Inc.