IWGA Interview of the Month: John Liljelund, new ExCo-Member

IWGA Interview of the Month: John Liljelund, new ExCo-Member

Sell the Games as the Crown Jewel

John Liljelund, Secretary General of the International Floorball Federation, is a new member of the IWGA Executive Committee (ExCo). In the IWGA Interview of the Month, he places emphasis on improving the marketing of The World Games. There’s a lot of potential, he says.


(With a smile) - how does it feel to be an IWGA ExCo member?

John Liljelund: I feel very privileged and enthusiastic after the very tight elections at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the IWGA. So it is with quite some excitement and eagerness that I look forward to starting working for the IWGA and its member federations, together with my fellow ExCo members and the IWGA staff. I believe that we have a really good team to work with, and we have a lot of tasks to tackle. I hope that through my experience I will be able to bring some new ideas and learnings from my sport to the way The World Games are organized and promoted, most importantly before the Games, but also during and after it. So I am very much looking forward to this.

Did you get any reactions to your election in Madrid?

John Liljelund: I got quite a number of congratulations from the Floorball community and the International Floorball Federation officials, but also from other people in sport and quite a number of the persons present in Madrid during the IWGA AGM.

What was the reason for you applying for an ExCo position in IWGA?

John Liljelund: I have been part of The World Games in both Wroclaw and Birmingham as a part of Floorball. I think I have spotted some real opportunities in how to enhance the Games and how we prepare for them, working more closely together with the member federations, and how to work more with The World Games product and the marketing of it. As I then already in Birmingham started to talk about this with a number of people, I was asked: why don’t you run for the position on the IWGA ExCo? After discussion with the IFF President, we decided that I would make a try for it.

The second reason is that I see a huge potential in the development of the IWGA marketing and commercialization of The World Games, and I hope to be able to help with that.

Where do you see the potential?

John Liljelund: The potential actually lies in the active involvement of the entities that make up The World Games, namely the IWGA member federations. The more the IWGA can support and guide the member federations, and stress the importance of us in the different sports working to showcase the Games, the stronger is the market potential of the Games. When you realise that we have an enormous fan base, and if we can “sell” the Games to these people as the crown jewel for the sports and disciplines on The World Games, then we can easily increase the visibility and awareness of our event, and this will then logically increase the market value of the Games.

To support the members in various ways we need resources, and one way here is to work with partners and sponsors. Therefore the way the Games are visible is a key question, and here I hope to be able to share the experience we have and also consider what the Games should look like to make the event a world-class event. But I think it’s important to recognize that I’m not only a marketing guy, but also very keen to develop the The World Games operations and the overall social responsibility of the event.


Can you give individual examples of where you would like to contribute expertise?

John Liljelund: There are a number of examples, but let’s take an easy one, the way we build the look and feel of the venues and events for the on-site spectators and the spectators in front of a screen. With small things you can easily make the events much more interesting, e.g. by including competitions on social media during the Games, and by activating the sports fans we can enhance the visibility and awareness of the Games. There are a lot of special ways of getting the interest of sponsors to participate in the process, but for Games organisers, the big question is how to tie the sponsors to the Road to Chengdu in this case, and how to build a way for the sponsors to be part of this process.

Floorball gives a good example of how an international federation can promote The World Games on the way to the next event. How can other federations be motivated to get involved in a similar way?

John Liljelund: The key thing is to set The World Games as a part of your ordinary competition calendar. It is not a stand-alone event, but an important part of the international sports calendar of all the federations, especially the non-Olympic ones. This is the platform where we can showcase our sport to the world, to non-fans of our sport. If we don’t promote the event, how can we think that it will become better? The easy answer is that if we, through the support of the IWGA members, can make the Games better, this will benefit the participating sports in the Games and in their everyday work. This should be easy to work with.

José Perurena spoke about a transition process that started in 2017 and should be completed in 2025. How do you see the development of the IWGA in the past years?

John Liljelund: I believe that the IWGA is on the right road in this change process, which has streamlined the organisation and how the IWGA works with the Games and its members in a very professional way, based on the approved strategy. The key is to strengthen the brand and operations of The World Games, not only for Chengdu 2025 but also for a longer period of time.

How do you see these perspectives for the IWGA?

John Liljelund: There are presently a lot of challenges in the world for sport in general which affect the prospects in The World Games vision, but I see that we are on the right road and if we try to find solutions from the sports side to the challenges, we will succeed. I think that the vision has good answers on how to work with this.

When the 2026 term is completed, what should be achieved so that you can say: "Yes, the effort was worthwhile?"

John Liljelund: If we, together with the member federations, have been able to increase the visibility and awareness of The World Games and increase the positive feedback towards the TWG among the members, I’m more than happy. I also hope this will help our members to further build and develop their sports in China.

Is there a question you want to answer but I forgot to ask?

Not sure if there is any really, but one thing could be: what would you do to enhance the preparation of the TWG?

I would set up working groups with the member federations in different fields like media, TV and streaming, accreditation etc., and have forums where the members can discuss and help each other to make it a smoother operation for everyone. These can of course be digital forums.


 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.