First floorball tournament coming

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A sport popular in Europe is gaining momentum in Wanaka and a new tournament will be launched in April.

Club member Lukas Bravenec said the inaugural Southern Lakes Floorball Cup would be held on April 28 and 29, at the Lake Wanaka Centre.

Floorball was an indoor game similar to hockey, with five players and a goalkeeper in each team, he said.

“I’ve played since I was 10 at school,” Mr Bravenec said.

“It’s a very popular sport up in Europe, mainly in the Czech Republic.

“Most of the players in Wanaka are from the Czech Republic, but usually we have other nations joining us as well.”

“We are acting as the Southern Lakers, which means a joint club of Wanaka and Queenstown,” he said.

After winning the Open B category at the Wellington Floorball Open last year, the club decided to run a floorball tournament in the South Island for the first time.

Two teams from Christchurch were coming and the Christchurch club would help supply some of the equipment for the tournament, Mr Bravenec said.

“The guys from Wellington, they are keen to send one or two clubs as well.”

A team from Dunedin had said it would attend and the Southern Lakers were hoping to divide into two teams – from Queenstown and Wanaka – for the tournament, Mr Bravenec said.

During the tournament, there would be a designated area where first-time players could try out the game, he said.

People who had played field hockey were often good players, Mr Bravenec said.

One of the differences was the ball used for floorball was aerodynamically designed, with holes to make it light, meaning it could travel very fast, he said.

There was some body contact but only as nudges rather than the more dramatic body checks of hockey, he said.

“It’s very quick, a quick game. It’s not as rough as hockey – hockey is about body-checks and that kind of stuff. It’s very light,” Mr Bravenec said.

“It’s a very light ball, very light hockey stick and shoes, so it is very safe.”

Mr Bravenec hopes the Wanaka tournament will boost the sport and encourage others to join.

“It’s very popular in Scandinavian countries, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.”