It may be new to Langley, but it is not new to the rest of the world.
Floorball originated in Sweden in the 1970s and rapidly emerged through the Nordic regions. In 1986, the International Floorball Foundation was formed and the game is now played in more than 80 countries by millions of people.
And now the sport will operate out of the Langley Curling Club, with a season that runs April until July. The curling club, which is located at the George Preston Recreation Centre, is now a dry-floor facility from April until the end of August.
The sport is an excellent way for ice hockey players to work on some of their skills during the off-season.
“Predominantly, floorball hockey challenges a house or rep player at an ice hockey level in an organized sport to hone their skills for passing, shooting, stick-handling and see the floor better and transition that over to ice hockey to make them a better skilled player,” said Rick Duchesne, the founder of the Langley Floorball League.
The sport is a fast and exciting game that promotes end-to-end play with quick transitions and fluid game 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.
Like hockey, each team has six players, with one of them the goalie.
But only the goalie wears equipment. Everyone else is outfitted in just a T-shirt, shorts, running shoes and carrying a lightweight fibre glass or carbon fibre sticks.
The stick must remain below the waist and the ball cannot be played if it is above the knee. And no body contact, stick contact or stick-on-stick contact is permitted.
Similar to soccer, a free hit (free kick) is given for a minor rule infraction.
There is also no offside or icing calls.
Duchesne also organized a league last year in Semiahmoo/White Rock.
The Langley league is also being operated in partnership with the Langley Minor Hockey Association.
LMHA president Steve Pitt had first heard of the sport a few years ago, but he took added interest while attending the B.C. Hockey annual general meeting last year when he saw a BC Floorball booth.
“I had an opportunity to hear some of the benefits of floorball as it relates to ice hockey,” he said.
He was approached in August by Semiahmoo Floorball, and LMHA agreed to post something on their website.
“Floorball — as many other sports — can provide an alternative to spring/summer activities with the added benefit of increasing your hockey skills,” Pitt said.
“Floorball truly involves ‘no-contact’, even stick-to-stick, so you learn to take away passing and shooting lanes and ball movement is essential.”
He added that because of the lack of contact, size, strength and gender are not as important, while the focus is on skill and speed.
“As an association, we support all sports in B.C. and encourage participation in multiple sports to keep fit and have fun,” Pitt added.
Hockey Canada has partnered with Floorball Canada to introduce the sport in elementary schools across the country.
The Gretzky Hockey School is also using floorball as part of their camps, Duchesne said.
The sport is also relatively cheap to play, as all the games are played within Langley, cutting back on travel costs, hotels and other costs associated with attending tournaments.
The season runs April 10 to July 10.
The association offers four age groups, ranging from five to 17 years old.
Tyke is for those born in 2009 and 2010, atom is for birth years 2006, 2007 and 2008, peewee is 2003, 2004 and 2005, and bantam is birth years 1998 to 2002.
For more information, visit www.langleyfloorball.com.