Floorball is a sport you may never have heard of. Compared to other sports in Farnham, it is a minority one, though one in which Farnham is actually very successful and has competed at regional, national and even international levels. Floorball is a form of indoor hockey played between two teams in a rink the size of a basketball court, with each team having five outfield players and a goalkeeper. It is played in a sports hall but looks similar to ice hockey and is even used as dryland training for it. Farnham is home to the two youth teams, the Shooting Stars for under 13s and the Farnham Fireballs for under 16s. Players can progress when older to the nearby adult second division side Southern Venom and the first division side Southern Vipers.
I am a goalkeeper and have been playing floorball for 7 years in Farnham. First for the Shooting Stars and then the Fireballs. I have also played for the Southern Venom and where we recently won the trophy for our division in the Cambridge tournament.
Floorball is a fast-moving sport where the ball, at just 23g, is lightweight and so can be hit to reach speeds up to 200km/h (120mph) which makes it an exciting game to play and watch. To keep it flowing, unlimited player substitutions are allowed during matches which keeps the tempo high, so it’s played at a sprint.
Over the last 5 years, the Shooting Stars have won the national TCL League three times and the National U13 Youth Championships twice. In this time, they also won the Farnham Sports Council Award for best Junior Sports Team. The Fireballs have had similar success, winning the U16 League three times and the National U13 Youth Championships twice. We have won numerous Top Goalkeeper Awards in each tournament and at each level. Last year, the Fireballs travelled to Sweden to compete in the Storveta Cup in Uppsala along with 900 other youth teams. Floorball is a major sport in Sweden where there are professional leagues and Uppsala is home to Storveta IBK, one of the largest floorball clubs in world, and the Fireballs got to play in their 3000 seater stadium.
Floorball was developed in the 1970s in Sweden though earlier versions were played in the 60s and 70s in Canada and America. The UK Floorball Federation was formed in 1996 and the International Olympic Committee recognised the sport in 2008. It is now played in over 80 countries. Floorball in Farnham is organised by Farnham Unihockey and Floorball Club (floorball is also called unihockey in some countries, meaning ‘universal hockey’) which then formed the Shooting Stars and Farnham Fireballs. The Farnham club also arranges the annual Farnham Floorball Cup for primary schools where over 10 schools compete each year in a one-day tournament.
Youth development runs throughout the training ethos in Farnham. Complete beginners can join and the coaches have many years’ experience in training players to be their best. Currently, several Fireball players, including myself, have been called up to the GB Under 19 Training Squad to prepare for the 2021 World Under-19 Championships.
Youth training is held at the Farnham Sports Centre each Saturday afternoon during school time. Adult training sessions are held at Farnborough Leisure Centre on Wednesday evenings.