KATONAH, N.Y. – Greg Janos introduced floorball to his students at The Harvey School about a year ago. The concept caught fire, and this weekend the school will host the U.S. Floorball Invitational with teams from the U.S. and Canada and players from Europe.
“I met with guys at Generation Floorball last year and they gave me a bunch of sticks,’’ said Janos, the coach of the girls soccer and girls lacrosse teams at Harvey. “We’ve been playing it for a little under a year, and it has just exploded with interest.”
The sport is similar to street hockey, where six-player teams try to direct a ball into a goal. “It’s a non-contact sport, so you have to play strategically,’’ Janos said. “There’s some shoulder rubbing and collisions similar to what you might see in soccer. But there’s no huge body checks or tackling like you see in football.”
Generation Floorball selected Harvey as the host for the national tournament due to the school’s new athletic facility. The location and layout of the campus made Harvey a natural choice to host the national tournament.
Janos said floorball is a nice “hybrid” sport because it combines a lot of physical elements. “You don’t stop running, and you have the eye-hand coordination of lacrosse,’’ he said. “It incorporates a lot of skills that other sports have.”
The sport is extremely popular in Sweden and Finland, and is rapidly gaining popularity in Latvia, Canada, Australia, Japan and some other countries. Janos said there is a movement to get the sport to be included in the Summer Olympics.
The ball used in floorball is similar to Wiffle ball – “It whistles when it goes past you,’’ Janos said – and goalies block shots with their hands and body. They play on their knees and do not use a stick.
The U.S. is seeking players to create 19-and-under teams that could eventually be part of the squad that competes on an international level. Representatives from the U.S. national team will be at Harvey this weekend to scout players.
Janos also started teaching kids the game at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford during the summer. “The more athletic kids picked it up pretty quick,’’ he said. “At that age, you want to make sure the kids don’t get hurt.”
The sport has some unique characteristics in that it be played indoors and outdoors, and can be modified by the number of players.
“I’m real excited that Generation Floorball and Harvey are building a relationship,’’ Janos said. “The exercise and health benefits are amazing. It’s even nice to get in there every once in a while and break a sweat with them.”