For those amateur athletes who always dream of playing on ice but aren’t coordinated enough to skate, there’s broomball. The sport, which originated in Canada, involves players who wear ordinary footwear on a hockey rink (or frozen pond, in cold winter climates) and engage in driving a ball into the other team’s goal with an odd-looking stick called a “broom.” Similar to hockey, on-ice referees are charged with calling all penalties, off-sides and goals for the teams, which are comprised of six players each (including a goalie). The sport has been described by some players as combination between soccer, lacrosse and hockey.
Manitoba is considered the global hot spot for broomball, but the sport’s appeal is growing elsewhere, as well. The International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA) is the sport’s governing body, and world championships have been held every other year since 1991. The 2014 World Championships were held in Japan, and Regina, Saskatchewan recently announced that it has been award the 2016 World Championships. In the U.S., USA Broomball is the official governing body for the sport. The organization’s mission is to create playing opportunities and promote the sport of broomball at a national level. The 17th annual USA Broomball National Championships will be held in Fargo, North Dakota from March 20th to March 22nd, 2015.
To date, the sport features leagues and teams that hail from Canada and the U.S. as well as Scandinavia, Australia, Italy, Germany, Japan, India and Russia. It has become popular with young people, as well (minimum age to play is usually 12 years old) because equipment costs are low, with little by way of official gear necessary to play. The sport also represents a lower risk of injury than hockey, since there is no “checking” during play.
The increasing popularity of the sport can represent economic opportunities for the locations that cultivate events (as well as ice rinks looking to broaden their use outside hockey and figure skating). According to the Saskatchewan Broomball Association (SBA), which is in the process of planning the 2016 World Championships, the economic impact of hosting the 2016 World Broomball Championships is estimated at just under $4 million dollars (Canadian), with over 4,500 room nights expected to be booked in Regina's hotels.
"Right now, the Saskatchewan Broomball Association is in the early planning stages of this major event,” said Don Black, president of the Saskatchewan Broomball Association (SBA). “We know that corporate sponsorship for events is prominent in Regina and that our city has capable volunteers that work tirelessly to ensure that events run smoothly. We hope both the corporate and volunteer communities will come out to support the 2016 World Broomball Championships.”
The 2013 USA Broomball National Championships, which were held in Oxford, Ohio, attracted 1,000 people to the region. About 500 of the attendees were participants on 33 collegiate, co-recreational and men’s teams) from Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C. and other regions. The event generated about $425,000 in dining, lodging and other tourist-related activity, according to organizing officials.