Canberra has a lot of niche sports but broomball might just take the cake for being the most obscure.
Broomball is a team sport played on an ice rink with a jumble of rules between soccer and hockey. To put it simply, the sport is pretty much skateless ice hockey with a rubber ball the size of a grapefruit.
Players wear soft-soled shoes to run on the ice as well as protective padding and helmets. Teams of six use “brooms” to pass and shoot the ball into the opposing team’s net but the biggest challenge is staying upright. Sounds entertaining, right?
Some of the best broomball players in Australia will be in town this week chasing national glory on the ice for the National Broomball Championships, which will be held at Philip Ice Centre on the 6 – 10 June.
Teams from the ACT, NSW and SA will all be competing, with men’s, women’s, and mixed teams all taking to the rink as they battle to be crowned the country’s top broomball team. Canberran Kirsty Martin is aiming to brush aside the opposition.
Since the day she was born, Kirsty Martin has been involved in broomball. Her parents were some of the first Canberrans to play the unusual ice sport so it is easy to see how broomball has become a major part of her life.
“My parents started playing in 1990 after a bunch of people from the Canadian High Commission introduced broomball to Canberra by going around the nearby public service buildings and challenging them to a game of this obscure new sport they had from Canada,” Kirsty said.
“So a colleague from the National Library who had already caught the broomball bug and travelled overseas to captain the first ever Australian team convinced my parents and a bunch of their friends to try it out.
“They all loved it, and that’s how the local Canberra competition we have today came to life.
“My parents have been playing since then and as soon as we were old enough, my sister and I joined them on the ice.”
The sport is a family affair for Kirsty, with her mum, dad, stepdad, and her sister all playing on the same team.
“What I love about the sport is that age doesn’t matter. People from 12-year-olds to 55-year-olds all play in the same competition which is something you don’t see in any other sport,” Kirsty said.
“I love the community aspect because it is such a niche sport, everyone knows each other and are super friendly and super social. People still try hard and it can get competitive and there are a lot of talented people but it is still friendly.
With only 60-70 Canberrans playing broomball, it is like a big happy family which has been steadily growing the last couple of years. Kirsty is eager for more Canberrans to know more about the sport and encourages people to come along and try it out.
“Broomball is good because there are a lot of skills that transfer from different sports. So we have people that come from soccer, and they are great at kicking it and using their feet. We also have people that come from ice hockey, field hockey and floorball,” she said.
“It is such a great culture and we encourage anyone to come along and give it a go.”
If you want to know more about the Championship or how to try it out and get involved in broomball in the capital, click this link.
National Broomball Championships
When: June 6 – June 10
Where: Phillip Ice Centre