Finnish Coach Popularise Floorball In Sabah

It is one of the fastest sports in the world yet few in Sabah have heard of floorball.
    This, despite being played here for the past four years, particularly among students and young adults but floorball enthusiasts here such as 18-year old former La Salle student, Adrian Lim is aiming to change that.
    To those who are wondering what floorball is, it closely resembles hockey but die-hard players say that it is not a ‘converted sport’ and compared to hockey, the equipment used such as the stick and ball are made from plastic.
    It can be played indoors (hall, etc) or outdoors (field) ideally on a 20m x 40m pitch and involves a maximum of 20 players (five-a-side plus 15 substitutes). The match time is divided into three quarters of 20 minutes each.
    Lim when met at a floorball training clinic conducted by Santeri Rantala of Finland, who has been involved in the sport for close to 20 years, said that he together with several other players are planning to form an association to organise regular tournaments and training clinics in an effort to promote floorball to Sabahans.
    Twenty participants aged between seven and 20, took part in the three-day clinic where Rantala showed them the basics of the sport.
    According to him, there are about 100 active floorball players, mainly concentrated in Kota Kinabalu and though they regularly play, tournaments are held only twice a year.
    “Floorball was introduced here in Aug 2004 when a father of a friend of mine brought several floorball players from Kuala Lumpur. Since then we have played it,” he said.
    Rantala, who is currently based in Singapore has conducted numerous training clinics in Singapore, Malaysia as well as Indonesia.
    “Floorball is catching on fast in Asian countries such Singapore, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and it is also making a headway in Thailand. In Malaysia, floorball is popular in Penang and Kuala Lumpur and it is no surprise that the Malaysian national team are mainly made up of players from that two states,” said Rantala, who is on his first visit to Sabah.
    He said that floorball is among the fastest sport in the world where players have been known to hit the ball, which can fly up to 160km/ph but pointed out that the sport is safe as there is minimal physical contact.
    Floorball, he said originated from Scandinavia and it is no surprise that Scandinavian counties are the powerhouse of the sport. “In fact, just a few days ago Finland defeated Sweden to lift the World Championship that was held in the Czech Republic,” he added.
    He said Malaysia could learn a thing or two from their neighbours Singapore, which has about 10,000 to 15,000 players though only 1, 600 are registered players.
    “They have a very competitive league, which runs about 10 weeks É you need to play regularly to sharpen your skills,” said Rantala, pointing out that in the three-days he has been with the players here, there were several who caught his eye.
    Meanwhile, Lim said that there would be a floorball tournament on Jan 1, next year at the Damai Hall here, where six teams are taking part.
    He said those interested to know more or join the sport could contact him at 016-8361512 or alternatively they can visit www.reloadedfloorballteam.blogspot.com.

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