The origins of Broomball are somewhat contested, as both Canada and Sweden lay claim to be founders of the sport. The ice game is played either indoors or outdoors on a hockey rink. There are two teams of six players each. A team consists of a goaltender and five other players. As with ice hockey, roller hockey and floorball, the object is to score more goals than your opponents. The tactics are also very similar where players hit a small round ball using a stick called a ‘broom’. The stick can have a wooden or aluminum shaft, while the head is made of a rubber mold to look like a broom. Originally actual corn brooms were used where the bristles were either covered with tape or cut off. Players do not wear ice skates, but instead wear rubber-soled shoes. The ice is also prepared in such a way that it is dry and smooth, which helps with traction. The indoor ball is smooth, while the outdoor ball more resembles a soccer ball with ridges. For safety purposes, a helmet is also worn. Goaltenders wear a full-face cage with thick padding on the legs, arms, chest and shoulders. A blocker, like ice-hockey goalies, are also permitted.
A game is broken up into two or three periods. Apart from the goaltender, a team normally has two defenders and three attacking players. Some playing surfaces are smaller, which reduces the number of players in a team. If the scores are tied at fulltime, extra time is played. If a winner is still not determined, a shootout follows. A goaltender can decide whether the ball is placed on a certain specified distance from the net or played from the centre ice. There is no accurate account of how the sport originated. Some think it developed from players trying to play ice hockey without ice skates. There is evidence broomball was played as early as the 1890s in Massey, Ontario. It spread from Canada to the United States where Minnesota took to the sport. By the 1980s the sport was played in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. It is now an established sport around the world. Canada and the United States are still the ‘powerhouses’, but Japan and Australia are increasing their number of players.
The International Federation of Broomball Associations (IFBA) is the highest governing authority for the sport formally established in 1998. The federation is based in Canada and one of the primary objectives is to grow the sport all around the world, especially in nations where ice sports are not prominently played. IFBA set the rules for the sport and oversee the biennial World Broomball Championships. It was first played in 1991 in Victoria, Canada, and was initially named the Challenge Cup. Over 800 athletes attended from 44 teams. In addition, IFBA also oversee the European Championships and the Pacific Rim Tournament, further enhancing the popularity and rapid growth of the sport worldwide, which in turn sets it on course for inclusion in the Olympic program.