Gothia Innebandy Cup brought “Pepa” to PixboWhen Josef Juha played the Gothia Innebandy Cup, he got in touch with Pixbo.
This past summer, the 17-year-old talent signed a contract with the SSL club and left the Czech Republic for an exchange year in Sweden.
Josef Juha played the Gothia Innebandy Cup for the first time when he was 12 years old. His team, FbŠ Bohemians Praha, met Pixbo in the quarterfinal that year and was down by 2-0. With six minutes left, Josef turned the match around by scoring three goals which enabled the Czechs to advance in the tournament.
After the match, “Pepa”, as he is called, became Facebook-friends with some of the Pixbo players. Today, five years later, he is playing in the same red and white striped shirt as some of them.
“It’s only thanks to the Gothia Cup that I’m standing here today, as a Pixbo player. I got in touch with both players and leaders from the club via the tournament”, says “Pepa”.
Coming to Gothenburg and playing the Gothia Innebandy Cup became a tradition for him, who last winter made his fifth tournament. “It is nostalgic for me to come back every year. Gothenburg is a nice city and it is a very friendly atmosphere at the Gothia Cup – it’s great when so many people who enjoy floorball meet and get to know each other. Also, it’s always fun to go to an international tournament and meet foreign teams since they play a different kind of floorball, that you are not used to. It’s hard to know in advance what to expect, so the team needs to adjust their game tactics during the match.”
“Pepa” thinks that it is very special to get the chance to go to Sweden and play floorball.
“It’s a journey to the origin of floorball. In the Czech Republic, it is given – all players want to go to Sweden and play.” It was therefore a big day for “Pepa” when he last summer signed the contract with Pixbo. The 17-year-old is finishing upper secondary school (12th grade) and thanks to his excellent grades, he has been given the possibility to study from Sweden and just visit the school in Prague some periods of the year.
“Ever since I was little, it has been my goal to play in Sweden. Many people have told me that the chance that someone will see me play and that playing in Sweden will become reality is very small, but I’ve worked hard and succeeded. It feels completely, unbelievably amazing.
After spending the first few months in Sweden, he states that there are major differences between the countries’ ways of playing floorball.
– The players’ mentality is different. I think that it is because Sweden encourages daily movement – kids ride their bikes to school, all playgrounds are open to the public and there is a gym that is open 24 hours a day. It is fantastic!
“Pepa” knows where he will spend the Epiphany weekend – on the stands, following the Gothia Innebandy Cup. More Czech teams than ever, 46 teams, are registered in the 2018 tournament so the opportunities to see his fellow compatriots are many!
“There was a lot of attention in the Czech Republic when my transfer to Pixbo became official, so many of them probably know of me. I have shown that it can be done. My encouragement to the young players who have the same dream is what I said to myself five years ago: work hard, challenge those around you who doubt – because many will say it cannot be done – and keep believing that it is possible.
So far, “Pepa” has played games with Pixbo’s secondary team in 1st Division, but his goal is to make an appearance in SSL before the exchange year in Sweden is over. The dream would be to do this in the match against FC Helsingborg played in Partille Arena during the Gothia Innebandy Cup.
“I am humble, but I think I have a chance to play a match sometime during the season. Right now, I’m focusing on using this year to train and learn. I will be on another level when I return to the Czech Republic, after this year is over.”