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What Is Floorball?

To some, floorball is a word that means absolutely nothing, nothing more than nine letter word that has no relevance to their lives whatsoever. But to others floorball is an exciting, fast-paced type of indoor hockey.

If you were to walk into a stadium and catch a glimpse of this sport, your first instinct would think that floorball is nothing more than floor hockey or ball hockey. The difference is in floorball the game revolves around a light weight plastic ball, and each player holds a specialized carbon fibre stick that is use to promote skill and allow each player to move quickly and efficiently.

Here is a little introduction to what floorball is about.

The rules of the game are quite simple to follow; each team has six players at a time on the court at a time with one player being a goalkeeper, similar to hockey. As well the goalie can be pulled creating an advantage on the offensive side of the ball, but a liability when on the defensive side. Teams are allowed to change players on the fly, usually all five players being switched with the occasional individual substitution if a player is tired or injured. Floorball games are played over three 20 minute periods and time is only stopped during penalties, goals, time-outs and a situations where the ball is considered to be out of play (ball is hit overtop of the walls surrounding the court).

Goalkeepers wear limited protection; padded pants, a padded chest protector, and a helmet.  Some other protective equipment includes knee pads, jocks, and gloves.

Checking is not allowed in floorball, only minimal shoulder to shoulder contact. The purpose of this contact is to battle for position in order to get the ball rather than injuring or checking a player out of play. Pushing players without the ball or players competing for the ball is not allowed at all, and results in a two minute penalty if caught.

Also players are not allowed to hit other player’s sticks when trying to get the ball and players are not allowed to raise their stick or play the ball above their level. If a foul of this kind is to occur and the ball is unplayable, a face-off will occur between the players.

Floorball started in the 1970’s in Sweden as a “just for fun sport”. It’s popularity rose and in 1986 several countries formed the IFF (International Floorball Foundation) which contains 52 countries around the world with over 277,000 registered players. Not bad for a sport majority of the world has never even heard of. Floorball is most popular in the areas which it started such as Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Norway, and of course Sweden, but is gaining interest from countries abroad like the United States and Canada, which sparked my interest to write this article.

Recently, a player I personally know partook in the 2012 Women’s Under-19 Floorball Championships as she represented Canada (which is the main reason that sparked my idea of this article). I am assuming that most of you readers and myself included had no idea that floorball even had a World Championship, never mind a separate Under 19 tournament. But yes, Floorball actually has four separate World Championships: Men’s World Championships, Men’s Under-19 World Championships, Women’s World Championships, and Women’s Under-19 World Championships.

The Men’s Floorball World Championship started in 1996 while the Women’s World Championship was first played in 1997. The Men’s Under-19 World Championship was formed in 2001 while the Women’s Under-19 World Championship was first played in 2004. The championships are set up that when the Women’s World Championship is played, the Men’s Under-19 Championship is played, and vice versa when the Men’s World Championship is played, the Women’s Under-19 Championship is played.

Floorball is a fast paced and an exciting sport, which is similar to how quickly floorball has gained global recognition in a short period of time.  This has escalated to such tremendous success that in 2008 the International Olympic Committee has recognized the sport and is considering floorball to be a part of the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

The game has been around for nearly 40 years now and is growing at a fast rate especially in the country of Canada.

The Canadians have just recently been placed in the Floorball Championships with the Under-19 Men’s making their first appearance in the 2009 World Championships and finishing 7th in Division B. In 2011 the Under-19 Men’s qualified again, and finished 5th in Division B, a slight improvement that could have been larger but do to point differential finished in 5th.

With regards to the actual Men’s Canadian Floorball World Championships the men have made great progress. Their innauragl tournmanet was back in 2004 when they were in Division C and finished 21st in the tournament. The Men’s team floated around the mid 20’s in ranking for the next four years finished 24th in 2006 and 23rd in 2008. But in the year 2010 the Men’s team finished 11th and are now ranked 11th in the world. Which is a great accomplishment considering where they started just years ago.

The women’s side of the World Championships began in 2007. The Canadian Women’s team finished 7th in Division B and 17th overall in their first ever trip to the World Championships. They did not autoamticaly qualify for the 2009 World Championships because they finished 17th in the tournament but still managed to qualify through other pre tournament Qualification rounds. The women finished 9th overall in Division B which was good for 19th overall in the tournament. The Women did not qualify for the 2011 Championships but are still eligible to qualify for the 2013 World Championships.

Lastly, the Under-19 Women’s Team recently just played in their first ever World Championships, competing in Slovakia. The girls were placed in Division B and finished 4th overall. The girls easily could have won Division B, tying both Denmark and Latvia 4-4 each game. Denmark being the team who was promoted into Division A for the next World Championships. The Canadians surprised many of the teams as they played a more different type of style that the European teams were used to.

Here is an interview of a player from the Canadian Women’s Under-19 Floorball Team who recently just played in Slovakia talking about her team and what they’ve accomplished.

Floorball in Canada has grown to such heights that in 2004 the Canada Cup Tournament was formed which has brought teams from Canada, United States and even countries like Finland and Sweden competing in various age groups. I had the opportunity to witness the 2012 Canada Cup final and floorball is something that is not taken lightly. The up tempo pace and the quick cross court passes brings excitement to the crowd and to the players as well.

Also  in 2007 Canada the Canadian Floorball Championships which has brought together the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebe for both Men’s and Women’s divisions.

So the passion for floorball is there in Canada and there is enough interest to bring floorball in Canada to heights people never thought were possible. The steps necessary to take floorball in Canada to the next level is to educate players and financial backing for the sport. It is a certified sport just like hockey and deserves every right of funding that other sports may get. Once floorball Canada is able to get the proper funding and recognition it deserves I believe that Canadian’s can really make a name for themselves in the World Championships and hopefully reach the Olympics in 2020.

Written By: Matt Ravida