We celebrate 25. anniversary of Czech Open
Czech Open, the Largest Floorball Tournament in the World to Celebrate Its 25th Birthday. And It Wants to Play
It all started back in the day at the times of Czechoslovakia. In August 1992, a bunch of enthusiasts, who used to meet in Tatran in Střešovice, set off for a tournament in Budapest. And the Hungarian Open inspired the Vaculík brothers so much that they wanted to have something similar in Prague. The Czech Open has surpassed its Hungarian inspiration – it has surpassed all the world's tournaments. There is no larger floorball undertaking that the one hosting the world's elite teams in Prague every August. This year, the mammoth event will celebrate 25 years of its existence.
This last quarter of a century reflects the dynamics, with which not only floorball but also everything around it moved forward. Today, it is unthinkable to send tournament invitations using standard letters, as was the case in the early 1990s. Or pay the tournament fee in marks which can be now only found in museums.
The Czech Open stood behind the origins and development of (not only) Czech floorball. Indeed, it was its soil where the very first match between the domestic teams was held. These teams still did not have their own league during the first year (that competition did not start until 6 months later) and fought in qualification rounds for participation in the main competition.
Anything was possible in the Czech Republic in the tumultuous 1990s. And so, dancers from the Goldex City Night Strip Bar in Zličín, who assisted during the award ceremony, became part of the 2nd annual tournament. Later, a few players on the Fornudden Team from Sweden almost missed their final, which they won, because they ended up at the police station due to questioning for attempted misuse of a found credit card.
The tournament quickly gained enormous prestige. The best teams in the world use it as a great practise for the upcoming season, where they can also test any new rules approved by the International Floorball Federation in the summer. The excellent background and expansion of the tournament can be illustrated by a simple comparison: the entire budget of the first annual tournament was CZK 75,000, today it is close to CZK 4,000,000.
Starting from 2004, the final day of the tournament has also moved from the old Sparta arena, where crowds were jammed in hellish stuffy air and often they could not see anything over standing fans, to the large T-Mobile Arena for a few years. Fantastic 6,583 spectators arrived to see the match for the gold then, which was the domestic floorball attendance record until the Superfinal in 2012.
There is also immense interest in the tournament among teams, but the capacity of the elite category and the arena cannot be inflated. And therefore, one of the applications that the organisers had to reject was an application submitted by the Finnish silver medalist SSV Helsinky in 2006. Their compatriots and floorball legends on the Finnsta Exhibition Team, which was born and made famous at the Czech Open, have not been coming since then at all. The team made up of the biggest stars from the country of the later world champions regardless of their club affiliation was stopped by a barrier of measures imposed by the IFF. The IFF started to require players, who play on any other than their home team at large summer tournaments, to arrange a temporary transfer.
However, other legends of the tournament still come play. The "Red Foxes" from Pixbo bring their star team to Prague every year and they have become extremely popular in the Czech Republic thanks to their regular visits. Well, it is true that there were only a few participations that they did not turn into medals. They have a total of 14 medals, including eight titles. Pixbo will again participate in the undertaking, in which 272 teams (which is more than six times the number of the starting field in the first year) participated last year and which has seen hundreds of various teams from 4 continents, including Australia, North America and, thanks to Singapore, also from Asia.
This year's tournament will once again come up with something new. The organisers are still finalising all the details. "Let it be a surprise. The basic motto is that it will be playful. For a quarter of a century, we have been playing with floorball, we are enjoying the beauty of this sport, and we have infatuated hundreds of thousands of people in the Czech Republic and around the world. It is not just Czech Open, but also the Prague Games, Masters and Open Wheel, which came along over time. This year, we will just play. The elite will be elite, PRO will be prestigious and the open categories are open to all. Our aim this year is to enjoy it as much as possible and maybe even go a few years back. Come play with us! " says one of the tournament directors Martin Vaculík.