Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Paradigm shift in the way we view Gym Hockey in Canada

This post is re-posted from BCfloorball with their kind permission.
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Ball Hockey + Floor Hockey + Hockey + Soccer = Floorball
This Past weekend, at the Richmond Oval, we had another festive female Floorball funathon. A large group of Women’s Floor Hockey League players tried on Floorball for the big compare. As it turns out, Floor Hockey in Vancouver and across Canadian School Districts, has a bit of a black eye. Gyms are saying no to Floor Hockey as equipment can damage their floors, and lack of proper safety regulations have skyrocketed insurance policies to the point where Schools shy away from after school Floor Hockey programs. Add to all that the aggressive nature of Floor Hockey and you have an “Epic Fail”.
It’s time to wake up Canada…Floorball is the solution. It’s Floor Hockey re-invented. It’s Floor Hockey 2.0. Floorball is Floor Hockey for the next generation. Floorball was recently approved as an Olympic Sport, it’s the way of the future, it’s a perfect balance of safety, speed and skill…and it’s pure Hockey with its ability to mimic the flow and poetic movement of ice-hockey. Floorball is simply an evolution of Floor Hockey. It opens up a whole world of opportunity to get kids active in Team sport, without high costs, without fear of injury, and without the hack and whack of traditional floor hockey. Lighter, user friendly sticks and a lightweight performance ball is all you need: no shin pads, no gloves, no goggles, no protective gear at all. Goalies need a light layer of protection, with facemasks, gloves and kneepads being the most important pieces. This sport was built for Canadians!
The Floorball movement is spreading like wildfire all around the world. Ice Hockey Countries, similar to Canada, like Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic all claim that Floorball is the second most played sport, only behind soccer – and that’s huge! Floor Hockey is non-existent in these countries. It’s not just Ice Hockey Nations that are playing Floorball either..Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Iran and Jamaica are just some of the countries that belong to the International Floorball Federation (IFF) with fast growing player bases. Floorball is played in over 60 countries, and there are 54 Member Nations of the IFF.
Earlier this year, The BC Floorball Federation (BCFF) hosted, at the Richmond Olympic Oval, a World Floorball Championships Qualifier Match between USA and Canada where the winner of the series would advance to the World Floorball Championships in St. Gallen Switzerland, next month. USA won these exciting matches, and it was evident that Canada was too young in the area of Women’s Floorball to really compete at their level. When National teams in Canada fail to advance, especially in a Sport as close to our heart as Hockey, they usually go back to the drawing board and retool for success…
It is that determination to build better Canadian teams that has sparked players like Lynn Santiago and Stephanie Allam, two of our BCFF Women’s National Team players, to go out and build a better system to recruit more players to Women’s Foorball. It is their passion for the sport of Floorball, as dedicated floor hockey and ball hockey players, and their passion to make a difference in the Women’s indoor hockey landscape that has inspired them to create programs that will assist in the transition from old school Floor Hockey to Floorball.
What is Floor Hockey? And why switch over to Floorball…
Women’s Floor Hockey leagues are quite established with hundreds, if not thousands of players in BC. Women’s Floorball has roughly 50-60 players and no formal league, yet. I think that Women learning about Floorball for the first time are hesitant to switch or try the game because it’s foreign to them. However, Floorball is just Floor Hockey with better equipment and and an easier rule book, call it “Floor Hockey 2.0″ if you will. Floorball is the global name and the IOC recognized name for what is essentially Floor Hockey in the modern era. To not call it Floorball would be a disservice to the global identity, or brand, that the sport of Floorball has created for itself, but let’s not kid ourselves, in Canada where we try and replace Floor Hockey with Floorball, we are merely upgrading Floor Hockey to Floor Hockey 2.0. We must embrace the change and spend the time and effort to shift over to the rules of Floorball, it’s approximately a 3 hour investment of play time – please invest that time and then decide if you want to go back to a Floor Hockey stick…
Ok, so let’s compare the sticks and what you can do with them:
first— a Floor Hockey Stick:
The shaft is made of plastic. They are very durable, yet clunky and old looking, hard to maneuver, dangerous, awkward and not user friendly, this style of stick has been in production since the seventies and they have never evolved to be performance based, their main purpose is durability. Is there any other piece of sporting equipment still in regular use that hasn’t changed at all since the seventies?
second – a floorball stick:
Lightweight, durable, ergonomic, versatile and technical, built for skill and safety, the shafts are made out of carbon composite and/or carbon graphite, blades are non marking plastic, ventilated for optimizing ball control, passing and shooting performance and creative stickhandling. The Grip is made of soft leather, or slip-on rubber, similar to golf grips or tennis racket grips.
let’s further analyze the blades: both are plastic, the floorball stick blade come in left hand or right hand curves, the floor hockey stick blades are meant to be bent to suit the player. However, over time, this makes the blade floppy and almost useless:
In the past four weeks, in the Vancouver Floorball League and and the new proposed Vancouver Women’s Floorball League we’ve seen over 40 new female players try Floorball for the first time. A handful of them are in the elite category which bodes well for future Team Canada teams. Many are purely recreational players who are playing for social interaction and fitness. Floorball is a perfect fit for both of these player groups.
In the past five years, BC Floorball has been on a quest to grow the game. A sport that is growing needs many partners and faces many obstacles, but in this case our biggest challenge is simply to convince long-time floor hockey and ball hockey players to try Floorball with an open mind.  If we were dealing with a situation where everyone had equal experience with both sticks, Floorball would win hands down, but when someone has twenty or thirty years experience with a Floor Hockey stick and is just learning about Floorball…well, Floorball can seem a bit foreign, strange and different.  All we can say is, give it a few hours – the Floorball stick is so hyper-light that it does take a bit to get used to, but after a very brief time, you have way more control than you ever had with your clunky floor hockey stick.
When you do a google search on Floor Hockey, you will quickly discover that Floor Hockey is not really a Sport, but merely a recreational activity that gets administered inconsistently, by a random set of rules that changes from region to region. There is NO National Sport Organization for Floor Hockey, and there are NO Provincial organizations. For those of us that started playing Floor Hockey in the seventies, isn’t it odd that the recreational activity of Floor Hockey never graduated in to a full fledged school sport? We don’t think this is an accident.
Let’s examine why Floor Hockey never became a sport…then let’s compare to Floorball.
Most Canadians are familiar with a Floor Hockey stick, the plastic shafted ones with bendable plastic blades. On a technical performance scale, this sticks would rank about a 1 out of 10. If anyone cares to disagree, please post a Youtube video link in the comments section below, where a player is making a Floor Hockey stick sing. They mimic a hockey stick, but lack any kind of consistent properties that would allow for a truly accurate shot or reflect the real dynamic of stick-handling, puck or ball control.  The length of the floor hockey stick is way too long to be useful.  Hockey sticks are longer because skates prop you up several inches. On a gym floor with running shoes instead of skates, your center of gravity is way lower – hence the shorter sticks of floorball.  We recommend belly button height or a couple of inches higher for optimum control.
Hockey in school gyms in Canada is commonplace. We have yet to find a school that does not own an old and tired looking set of Floor Hockey sticks. So the fact that Floor Hockey never flourished as a Sport is not due to lack of exposure. Every Canadian seems to know what a Floor Hockey stick is – yet nobody can point us in the direction of a lead organization for Floor Hockey. Some might say that the Canadian Ball Hockey Association is that group, but for those of us that know our off-ice hockey variants, we know that Ball Hockey is different than Floor Hockey, mainly because of the sticks. The Canadian Floor Hockey Association does not exist.
Floor Hockey has no organization, inferior equipment, no governing rulebook, and does not promote equality in PE class as it is too aggressive and non-ergonomically friendly for young boys and girls.  Floorball Hockey has just a ton going for it, in comparison.
Floorball in BC, has a Provincial Sport Organization, which belongs to a National Organization- Floorball Canada, which is a member of an International Governing Body which sanctions a universal rule book that promotes equality, safe play, amazing technical elements, physical literacy, and opportunity to play on Provincial Teams, National teams and even compete in numerous local, national and international tournaments. It’s the modern era answer to off-Ice; school hockey, indoor hockey, intramural hockey, recreational hockey and competitive hockey. Floorball also has opportunities at the local and top levels in the Special Olympics, and Paralympics. There are professional leagues and within ten years, Team Canada will be preparing to field a Floorball Team in the Summer Olympic Games.
Whether you are an old school Floor Hockey player, a PE Teacher, or a Hockey Coach, please contact us at info@bcfloorball.com or info@floorballcanada.ca or visitFloorball.org, download the materials, get up to speed on what Floorball is and what the key differences between Floor Hockey and Floorball are. It may require that you seek out a stick and try it for yourself. You won’t regret it…and please tell a friend, the time is now to recognize that we NEED:
A Paradigm shift in the way we view Gym Hockey in Canada
To Volunteer with the Provincial Organization or to start your own club, or to get Floorball in to your school, call BC Floorball 778 385 7825 or email us at:info@bcfloorball.com
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Caution

Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!