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One of the fastest games in the world and the fastest growing sport in Sweden is floorball. Why? The gear for the game is very simple, a pair of shoes, a plastic stick and somewhere to play. Anyone can play floorball irrespective of sex, age and handicap. Here you get the story about floorball; the history, how to play it and much more.....

The birth of floorball
It was Carl-Åke Ahlqvist from Gothenburg who brought some plasticsticks with him when he returned home from a trip to Holland. He had bought them there in a toystore and he thought it would be fun to try playing with the sticks. He and other students in Gothenburg tried "floorball" and they really liked it. It was Carl-Åke who started to import the plasticsticks to Sweden. After some year he founded a company where they made plasticsticks. So it's wrong to say that Carl-Åke was the one who invented floorball. It was in Sala everything began. Christer Gustavsson who just had finished upper secondary school, had plans to start something for the youth who didn't have anything to do. The schools of Sala there had been floorball equipment since 1976 so Christer and some friends began to play. The interest was there but the game didn't develop. Christer and his friends sat talking in his apartment and came up with the idea that floorball could be played on a larger court with big goals and a goalkeeper. It became a success. So the 21th September 1979 Sala FloorballClub was founded. The first club in Sweden and in the rest of the world who only played floorball. It wasn't until the 70's floorball started to be established in Sweden. A few Swedish towns including Örnsköldsvik developed floorball from an amateurish sport to a professional sport. The Swedish floorball was born in the 70's and developed in the 80's. It wasn't until the 90's floorball really got it's breakthrough. In Sweden there are now approximately about 1600 floorballclubs all over the country. About 90 000 Swedes plays floorball and 27 000 of them are youths under the age of 16.

Three leading countries
Sweden is one of the countries that established floorball. Sweden has over 65% of all floorballplayers in the world. Sweden with Switzerland and Finland founded the IFF, International Floorball Federation 1985. Nowadays there are 19 members totally about 140 000 floorballsplayers in 3300 clubs. Floorball is a very popular sport in Scandinavia but now also in the rest of Europe.

Every twentieth Finn
In Finland floorball is a quite a big sport. Every twentieth Finn plays some kind of floorball. Finns have been playing floorball from the very beginning. Finland was one of the countries that founded IFF. Some Finnish students had been in Sweden and they brought with them some plasticsticks and balls. 1980 the Finnish began to play floorball on a larger court with bigger goals. It's about 20 000 Finns who play floorball in 700 clubs.

Unihockey in Switzerland
A physical teacher in Bern was the founder of floorball in Switzerland. He wrote rules for "unihockey" (the Germanspeaking countries call floorball for unihockey) as early as in 1973. Unihockey was from the beginning a kind of ice free version of icehockey, but played with a ball and on a small court. Every team had one goalkeeper and three players. It was the different rules between the Nordic countries and Switzerland that made it difficult for an international co-operation. But after some years the Swiss gave up their own sport unihockey and began to play floorball. Switzerland has 400 clubs and there are 17 000 Swiss who play floorball.

How to play floorball
Floorball is an indoor sport and it is played with five players, one goalkeeper on each team. The team can only have 11 replaces during the game which is played during 3*20 min. Every player has a plastic stick who is about 1m tall. The ball is 7,2cm in diameter, white and made of plastic. To make the ball light there are 26 little holes on the sides. The court looks like an icehockey court but it's smaller. It is 40m long and 20m wide with a 50cm sideboard around. There is a goal on each sides which is guarded by a goalkeeper without a stick. The goalkeeper sits on his knees and has a mask over his face. He can touch the ball all over the court but only if he has a part of his body in the goalarea. The aim with the game is to shoot the ball into the other teams goal but you can't touch the ball with your head,hand or with your arm. But you can kick the ball infront of you to your own stick. You can't hit the ball with the stick above your knees. All this is punished by a free hit for the other team. If you kick, throw your stick or make the against player fall you can get penalty and a free hit for the other team. If a player tries to stop an obviously goalsituation he'll be punished with a penalty shot against his team.

ÖSK-Örnsköldsviks Sport Club
The most successfully floorball club in Örnsköldsvik is ÖSK. Ösk has teams from little children to the highest series. In the highest series ÖSK has teams in both ladies and men's division. The club was founded in 1921 but the floorball first came 1987, but the ladies win a gold medal in the Sweden championships already in 1989 and order that way, gold in -90,-92 and -93. But this year haven't it went so god , they couldn't reach to the playoff. The men have one Swedish championship bronze medal from 1990 and this years Swedish championship they got to the semi-final and lost against a strong team called Pixbo. Ösk lost with 1-2 in matches but we hope that they'll be stronger next year. With almost 200 members Ösk is a club with the future because floorball is the sport that enlarge most of all sports in Sweden right now. They work hard on the young generation and had done well with that. World championship The World championships in floorball 1998 is played in Czech republic 25th-30th Maj. It'll be two division a A and a B division. In the A division group A consist of Sweden, Czech republic, Switzerland and Germany. In group B Finland, Norway, Russia and Denmark plays for the final. Six teams are in division B; Australia, Austria. Estonia, Japan, Latvia and Singapore. Last year, in 1996 Sweden took the first WM medal ever. The final was played in Stockholm and over 13000 people sow Sweden beat Finland with 5-0. For the ladies the first championship was hold in Åland( a small island between Sweden and Finland ) in 1997. And even here Sweden took the gold and won over Finland in the final. The world championship is every other year, ladies on even years men on odd years. Sweden have a good chance to win in Czech this year and the Swedish people behind them we think they will.

Why have floorball became a successful sport?
Floorball is a very easy game to play even at the first time. It's a confortable sport, always warm and nice in the gymnastichall. And you don't need to carry around heavy bags. Floorball is cheap, a stick cost about 15£ and except that you only need a pair of sportshoes and gymnastic clothes. It's a social sport, many plays it on amateurish level just to meet friends and having fun. Floorball is a fast game with many goalsituations and quick turns in the game. The game has explode from nothing to one of the biggest sports in Sweden right now, and it look like it will continue like that. The sport have a great future in Sweden and in the rest in the world.


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