Saturday, November 3, 2012

Shiraz Bandhoe, DOING Zoetermeer - One of the worlds most decorated athletes in Wheelchair Hockey and Floorball.

Mr. Bandhoe - one of the Men on Wheels
Shiraz started to play wheelchair hockey - another rather similar or scaled down “Wheelchair Hockey game” - and a relative to Wheelchair Floorball, as he went with his brother to do wheelchair sports at a local club called DOING in Holland. 
His brother was also able to play wheelchair hockey in school.

One of Mr Bandhoe's first memories was that he was asked by Doings coach to try to play the game already at the age of six and he felt strongly that his chair was way too large. 

DOING Zoetermeer is a club that believes in inclusion that means that they have both players that are not disabled as well as players with a disability.

His first game in competition also brings vivid memories since he remembers his own mother watching the game and since his team lost he started to cry.

Shiraz performance record is inspiring; He is the only one that have won all the Dutch awards like the Dutch champion, Dutch Cup Champion, National Top Scorer, winner of the one-on-one and two-on-two tournaments in the sport Wheelchair Hockey. These are extra activities designed for the specific sport of wheelchair Hockey, a sport that today relates very much to the new sport Wheelchair Floorball.

Wheelchair Hockey is related to and have its roots in what we call field Hockey in the USA. So we will most likely soon toss up another post on Wheelchair Hockey here so we can explain it better. It is interesting to note however that the very first Plastic sticks that came around in Minneapolis - they were also inspired by field Hockey (and golf).

The first International Floorball Wheelchair Tournament Mr. Shiraz Bandhoe played was the International Prague Wheel Open 2011. 

He say himself that he won the most beautiful individual price: the most valuable player.
But his best accomplishment… is the Gold Medal at Prague wheel Open the following year 2012 - with his team. 
This is a price with a lot of emotions for Mr. Bandhoe since the team trained day in and day out in the summer before, and it payed off. Also this tournament marked a 10 year celebration, for them being together as a team.

In this context is is well worth to point out that the team Mr Bandhoe represents is the DOING Zoetermeer, it is a team that promotes inclusion and therefore several of the activities at this team involves both students with disabilities as well as people not classified as such. Mr. Bandhoe express some concern for future International Wheelchair Floorball competitions since it seems like the rules and regulations might determine a specific number of athletes with disabilities on a wheelchair team. This seems to become a regulation that would directly affect a team like the Dutch DOING Zoetermeer - since they would not be able to have enough players with disabilities that the regulations might require.

On the subjects of tactics in Manual Wheelchair Floorball Mr Bandhoe state that he finds significant differences between Dutch, Swedish and Czech Wheelchair Floorball. However the largest difference is as you do a comparison between electric wheelchairs and the manual driven chairs. According to Mr. Bandhoe, the electric powered athletes often use a tactic with ways to block the opponents, whereas in manual wheelchair the focus is instead to find the “free agent” and deliver a good pass to that same player.

Another part of tactics and training that Mr. Bandhoe is keen on to discuss is the length of the stick, a subject that relates to the transition from the current form of Wheelchair Hockey that dominates these activities in Holland and to the use of Floorball sticks.
Let us quote Mr. Bandhoe as he say “I think that defense need to play with long sticks and the center also because they need to defend and they has to shoot hard from a distance. The offense players, wings, need to handle fast and they don't get much space to shoot so that's why I play with a shorter stick (I did cut my stick to 65 cm), but I can't defend good because of the size of my stick.  I think that is a plus for a forward..... I think there is no link between a long or a shorter stick and players with specific disabilities.”

It seem therefore that a short stick and a lots of stick handling is a good path to forward success in Wheelchair Floorball. Mr Shiraz also envision a game that promotes both short and long sticks where the short ones should be used for attack missions and the long stick is more for defense activities.

Mr. Bandhoe, 24, has played his sport since the age of 6, and he has been playing on a regular basis two times a week. As the Dutch team became invited to the Czech Wheel Open tournament in 2011 the team Doing Zoetermeer started to practice almost every day (4-5 times a week).
However Shiraz also practice on his own “at home in the living room, dribbling from left to right, in different rhythms or as fast as I can. Our in front of my door, or in the street.”

Mr Bandhoe continues; “You have to feel your wheelchair, like it is not an extra attribute but it is a part of your body. The same about your stick, it's a part of your body. The basics are important. Like driving the ball, passing/shooting and receiving the ball. Then it's important to read the game, know your team. It is important to be a valuable player for your team, do your job and that you never give up. The ball has to be yours.”

As Mr. Bandhoe provides specifics on the exercise a driven manual wheelchair Floorball athlete is provided with, he mentions the shoulders on his back, his forearms and in particular his fingers. An interesting notion is that many of these players use protective gloves, often gloves used in golf as they control their wheelchairs.

In ten years time Mr Bandhoe hopes to see a full flavored European Floorball Wheelchair Championship and also a World Championship for Manual Wheelchair Floorball.

Since Mr. Bandhoe comes from an inclusive background where he grew up with people in wheelchairs he belongs to the exclusive group of people that has developed skills in a sport designed for people with disabilities - without carrying a disability himself.

As he reflects on this subject he claims that early on in his career many comments were heard from others within the disabled community that showed deep respect for his commitment, practice, and interest in wheelchair sports. However as he has become utterly successful in what he do, he also admit that some of this respect - later on - turned into somewhat perhaps less respectful comments as other athletes makes verbal judgement in this area.

This relation between the able, and the ones that are less able, seems to mirror the debate from the regular Olympics where athletes with disabilities by using prostheses are able to run almost as fast as the other runners and in many cases much faster than many of our readers...

In the case of Wheelchair Floorball - we have the reversed reality.
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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!