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What is floorball? An expert explains ahead of upcoming world championships

The 2019 Men's U19 World Floorball Championships are coming to Halifax in May
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The 2019 Men's U19 World Floorball Championships are coming to Halifax in May.

The sport has been around for about 40 years and is played by more than 3.5 million people worldwide, but there's a good chance you don't know that much about it.

"We're such a hockey culture here, we're such a sports nation that some of the less traditional sports really have a challenge getting their roots established here and floorball is one of them," chair of the organizing committee Anthony MacNeil said.

He told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show, the sport has been played in Canada for about 10 years and is now starting to gain in popularity.

So what is it?

"It kind of resembles floor hockey, but it's game, it's strategy and it's tactics are more in line with soccer," MacNeil said. "So it's kind of a hybrid of both sports with elements of other sports in it."

Floorball is generally played in a gym or on a sports court. The surface almost as long and wide as a hockey rink, but the boards are only 2 feet high.

MacNeil adds it doesn't require a lot of equipment.

"You use something of a plastic, web-based blade, with the stick only coming up as high as your belly button," he explained. "It's a very light-weight stick with a whiffle ball, so everything kind of comes together with a lot of speed and agility."

Because of it's safe, fun, affordable and easy to learn, the sport is starting to take hold in many parts of the world, with over 68 countries recognized as members of the International Floorball Federation.

The game was invented in Sweden and the country has 400,000 registered players, outpacing minor hockey enrolment. Their main rival is Finland, where the sport is also wildly popular.

"They'd be akin to Canada and the U.S.A when it comes to junior hockey," MacNeil said. "Those countries take it pretty seriously. They usually have somewhere around 1,200 people try out for their roster."

Sixteen countries will be competing in the upcoming tournament, which runs from May 8 - 12.

Games will be played at both the Dalplex and Zatzman Sportsplex, formerly called the Dartmouth Sportplex.

Tickets are on sale now and more information can be found online.




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