Floorball plays by its own rules

Students at Aspengrove School were introduced to the sport of floorball last month at their school gym.

Xander Whittles

Xander Whittles

It’s hockey that hardly anyone has ever heard of, but it might start to make some noise now in Nanaimo.

Students at Aspengrove School were introduced to the sport of floorball last month at their school gym, and they’ll continue to practise and play.

Floorball, popular mostly in Scandinavia, is a variation of floor hockey – it’s played five-on-five and almost all the rules are the same. The main difference is the sticks – they’re a sort of hybrid between a hockey stick and a golf club, and ultra light.

Claude Therrien, a teacher at Aspengrove, said he learned about the sport at an education conference and it appealed to him.

“The stick is light, it’s rounded, it’s safer and the rules make it that there’s barely [any] contact,” he said. “And it’s very easy to adapt it for a phys ed class.”

The school has purchased a set of floorball equipment – sticks, wiffle balls and nets – and Greg Beaudin, a director with the B.C. Floorball Federation, came over to the Island as a guest coach. He said the sport makes sense for phys ed classes for a few reasons.

“Ball hockey is a pretty aggressive game and in Canada it’s 95 per cent male, five per cent female…” he said. “[Floorball] equipment is designed and engineered for safety and speed and skill and finesse.”

There’s no checking, so the bigger, stronger player won’t always emerge with the ball.

“You have to steal the ball clean without hacking and slashing…” Beaudin said. “So that makes it cleaner and more fluid without the aggressive play.”

The sport gets kids moving, it’s fast, and the wiffle ball zips around to all corners of the gym, keeping all the participants engaged. Therrien said his students were quick to embrace this new kind of hockey and Beaudin thinks the game will continue to grow.

“It’s a total joy to see people learn a new sport for the very first time, especially a sport that has got such a bright future,” he said. “Because you know you are on the cusp of something.”