Readers of Urban Vancouver know that I've been playing floorball, a type of floor hockey with modifications like shorter sticks with golf club-like grips, a whiffle ball, with rules that emphasize stickhandling and playmaking over physical toughness. I'd only heard about the sport a few months ago, but the people are really friendly and encouraging, and though play is a little more 'lower-body' than I anticipated, it's a nice compliment to the primarily 'upper-body' sport of dragon boating.
After the BC Federation Floorball challenge a few weeks ago, I was getting a little discouraged with goal-scoring, but after last night's play, scoring on the final play of the final game, and feeling a lot better about my defensive play, I've gotten over any doubts I might have had about enjoying floorball. One of the organizers noticed an increase in velocity on my shot—though we'll see how accurate I am under pressure—and going the almost the whole night without water makes me wonder if my fluid intake is way more than it needs to be.
The 1st annual BC Floorball Federation Challenge this past Saturday was a major success! I was placed on Team Sweden, and despite claims of coincidence, I suspect conspiracy—I started participating in order to counter Swedish dominance with a surging Icelandic wave, and this is how they repay me?! Team Czech won the championship, which lasted all day at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver. Separate from the challenge, Swiss all-stars continued their dominance over the Canadian team in the middle of the day, and kids entertained the adults who deservedly rested after some pretty intense action. Each team had only one or two substitutes, making for some tired legs at the end of each game, but I scored twice and assisted once, so I'm pretty happy with how things turned out. Team Sweden lost twice, tied once, and won their final game.
Stewart already addressed the issue I had about floorball, that is that tricks have more value than fundamentals. This is true of all sports, really, but it's also true that teams that best exploit the regime (the infrastructure of the sport, including the rules and how the refs call it) are the ones that dominate, not necessarily those that are the most skillful. Think the New Jersey Devils of hockey and the Detroit Pistons of basketball.
As promised, some video of floorball in action. Izzard's video gives you a sense of what it's like to play pickup floorball in a gym, except we don't play to a Chemical Brothers soundtrack. For tricks (which floorballers seem to prefer to call skills), go no further than video showing the "Zorro" performed during games. I'm not so fond of the tricks, they intimidate me as a beginner, and besides, I won the award for best fundamentals on my basketball team (that's also why Tim Duncan has long been a favourite player of mine). For a good introduction to some of the rules, GlobalTV Quebec's This Morning Live did a short series one day on the sport, calling it "Floorball Fun With Richard" (hey I should have thought of that!): part 1; part 2; and part 3.
Thanks to the fine folks at BC Floorball for the link back to yesterday's introduction to the series. Referring to me, they say "as soon as he realised Sweden is a top nation in Floorball he knew he HAD to play. Nothing like a bit of Nordic rivalry!" That's right, it took not Stewart's gentle pleas to get me to try the sport, but rather looking at the Wikipedia page for floorball and noticing that the Swedish men have won all the world championships to get my Icelandic blood boiling.