Wolfville coach Steve Broom has been trying to build interest in the new-to-the-Valley sport of floorball. Through a league called Infinity Floorball, Broome has been running sessions at local schools.
They’ve been successful enough that two floorball players from Port Williams, Simon Tracy and Daniel Henri, have been selected to represent Canada on the Canadian Men’s U19 floorball team.
The World Men's Under 19 Floorball Championships are being held in Halifax May 8-12. A third local player, Riley Curry from Hortonville, has been selected as an alternate. Since the Broome family only moved back to Nova Scotia less than two years ago, the feat of these young players qualifying should be considered a huge achievement, their coach says.
Along with the three local athletes, Halifax native Ethan Morgan will also represent Team Canada at the U19 World Championships.
“It is good to have this level of representation from Nova Scotia. The boys will be going to Ottawa for a training camp with Team Canada,” says Broome.
Tracy learned about floorball from Broome’s son, Owen, who played on the Australian national floorball team.
He saw his minor hockey time ending and decided to try the new sport. Tracy quickly picked up goalie skills even though the first-year Acadia student had never played that position on the ice.
“He’s got good hands,” Broome said, “’and he’s quick.”
With a five to ten-year vision for floorball, he says, “we look forward to the sport growing across Canada and having full national representation on the team.”
The A grade competition and Canada’s games will be held at the Dartmouth Sportsplex, while the B grade competition will be at the Halifax Dalplex, he noted.
Prior to the worlds, both the Canadian and Swiss floorball teams will be training in the Wolfville area, Broome said.
“This is a great opportunity for local players, schools and officials to see top floorball athletes and understand the level of development that is required to compete on a national and international scale.”
What is floorball?
Floorball is a fast-paced indoor-hockey style sport that places emphasis on speed, skill and technique as opposed to physical aggression.
It is fun and easy for beginners to pick up, Broome believes, and also offers advanced players room to develop ball handling, passing and shooting skills.
“It looks like hockey and plays like soccer,” he adds.
Tracy, who is a soccer player, thinks that floorball is more social. It allows for co-ed and family play.
The rules stress the importance of safety and sportsmanship and are designed to limit the chance of injury without decreasing the speed or skill of the game.
Henri, who is 17, actually quit hockey to train in floorball. The Grade 12 Horton High School student likes the fact that it’s fast paced and not as expensive.
Before joining he already had one of the light carbon and composite sticks and had been trying to learn the sport online. Henri also snowboards and rides a mountain bike.
He practices endurance running on a treadmill to train right now and goes to an open gym in New Minas.
Henri says Broome is a “really good coach. He’s a good influence and he taught me a ton.”
What is Infinity Floorball?
Broome says Infinity Floorball is an organization whose aim is to introduce and grow the sport of floorball locally.
“We provide floorball players and parents in the area with opportunities to learn, play, and develop their floorball skills regardless of age, gender or ability.” He says we also work with physical education teachers to develop and deliver floorball curriculum. Infinity offers players an opportunity to play in recreational and competitive environments with a focus on fun and social floorball skill development.
Infinity Floorball started floorball programming just a year ago with drop-in sessions at Louis Millett Centre and the introduction of floorball to local schools.
“We had a very positive response from the participants and teachers who saw the benefits of the sport to help them with the students’ athletic development in a safe, fun environment.”
A couple of the Acadia Minor Hockey and high school teams have used floorball as an opportunity to practice their skills and plays off the ice. Local coaches Karla Carter and Jeff Moore commented on how it was great to challenge their players with a fun new training method.
Parents are seeing improvements their hockey players are displaying with stick handling and passing on the ice after even just a few floorball sessions, he said.
“It is great to see the crossover of floorball skills leading to improvements in ice hockey. What is even more exciting is that you don’t have to be a hockey player to be a good floorball player.”
According to Broome, “we see lots of participants, who don’t play other sports, really take to floorball. Basketball and soccer players will find floorball very similar to their playing movements and of benefit to their endurance training.”
Where to play
For anyone interested in playing floorball, registration for the Spring Floorball League is now open. The league will run during the months of April and May at Wolfville School (Saturdays for juniors and seniors) and at Kings County Academy (KCA) (Tuesday evenings for females). For more information, see Infinity Floorball’s Facebook page.
Right now, floorball takes place at Wolfville School on Friday nights from 6-7 p.m. for juniors, 7-8 p.m. for women only and 8-9 p.m. for seniors, including the national players.
After March Break, training will take place at KCA on Tuesday nights for women, elite training at Wolfville School on Wednesday nights and juniors and seniors at Wolfville School on Saturdays.
Another growth initiative in the area is taking place at Gaspereau Elementary School on Wednesday nights from 6 to 7 p.m. This session offers instruction and game time for new players and families. All are welcome. For more information email: email@example.com
Increasing participation levels has led to the establishment of the first floorball club in the Valley, Golden Knights FC. This club will offer players the opportunity to compete at a higher level of training and represent the region in floorball tournaments and club level competition.
This June, Truro will be hosting the Atlantic Cup during the first weekend of June. Infinity plans to take a number of teams to the Atlantic cup to compete against players from New Brunswick, Truro and, hopefully, Halifax.
“The city has had several groups playing floorball over the last few years and our players are keen to play friendly matches against them. The fun of floorball is the ability to expand the social aspects of the game and represent your club well.”
To build on the success of the U19 Men’s World Championship, the Wolfville coach says, there is a strong movement to recruit women from the area to build a core group of U19 women to represent Team Canada at the next U19 Women’s World Championships.
Women born between Jan. 1, 2001 and May 5, 2005 are encouraged to contact Infinity Floorball or Valley Wild organizations to express their interest in representing Team Canada. They are also encouraged to try the free floorball session March 26 at KCA.
The Soccer Shop on Commercial Street in New Minas has recognized the value and potential floorball can provide to athletes in the local area, Broome said.
“Owner Randall Gates likes how the playing style of floorball has strong similarities to soccer and is a great way to cross-train for different sports. The Soccer Shop has been a big supporter of floorball since its first introduction to the area and has partnered with Infinity Floorball to offer the largest range of floorball equipment in the Atlantic provinces.”
Floorball is one of the fastest growing sports internationally. The essential equipment is a specialized light weight stick and wiffle ball.
Started in Sweden in the 1970s, the game was originally played for fun in schools. As the sport began to grow in popularity, formal rules were developed and floorball clubs were formed.
An international federation was founded in 1986. Floorball is now played in over 80 countries around the world, with 68 countries as recognized members of the federation.
Sixteen teams, mostly from Europe, and about 400 players will be gathering in Halifax in May.
Floorball Canada is building off of the momentum from the Women’s U19 WFC, which took place in May 2016 in Belleville, Ont.
Floorball is poised to be a sport in the 2024 Olympics. The federation in Canada was founded in 2013 with five elite teams – four of them in Ontario.