Herisau, Switzerland, May 5, 2018- History was made at the IFF U19 Women’s Floorball World Championships at the Herisau venue on Saturday, the 13th place classification match between New Zealand- featuring at their first ever World Championships tournament- and Canada, being the first time two nations within the Commonwealth have ever faced each other in the history of this competition.
This latest milestone is testament to how far and wide the game of Floorball has spread over the last 30 years, transcending European borders and building a profile all over the world. And that is put into perspective when one looks at the two nations involved, Canada- on the continent of North America- and New Zealand, in the continent of Oceania in the Southern Hemisphere, really could not be geographically further apart.
And the remarkable thing wasn’t just that the Commonwealth rivals had even prepared their own unofficial trophy to award to the winning team, but that after the game, the sides sounded out their intent of trying to get Floorball integrated into the Commonwealth Games.
In terms of the match itself, the pace and intensity of the Northern Hemisphere way of playing is something those below the equator are still adapting to, and that was reflected in the eventual match result.
It was Canada who came up trumps in a 5:1 win, which wrapped up their campaign in creditable fashion: two wins from their four games. Kaitlyn Fung and Meghan Jefferies’ opening strikes set the Maple Leaves on their way in the first period, before Australia’s Annie Lean pulled a goal back to increase the tension over the remainder of the game. From there, Canada had to rely on the brilliance of their rearguard as they played out the game goalless until the final period, particularly that of Friday’s MVP, goalkeeper Hunter Jones, whose 19 saves were critical in preserving her team’s lead once more. But as the Australians were continually frustrated and worn down by Canada’s physicality, the forward line had more joy, and Fung popped up again on 44 minutes to knock the stuffing out of Australia with a third Canadian goal, and from their heads dropped in the green and gold shirts and Canada began expressing themselves and exploiting holes in the defence. Nicole McDonald, who has enjoyed an impressive tournament, fed Sophie Simard for 4:1 within the closing minutes, before Scout Watkins-Southward capped off a fine tournament for her country with a fifth goal with 24 seconds of time left.
The victory closed a fine chapter in the history of this growing Canada side, who sealed 13th place with this win, whilst Australia, who finished with three defeats and one draw from their four matches, finish up in 14th place at their first ever World Championships. For both of these Commonwealth counterparts, it is an admirable achievement, and a real indication that there may be much to look forward to in the future of the game from these nations, and if they do succeed in integrating Floorball into the Commonwealth Games, then welcoming these nations into the sport may just be the next major point in the growth of Floorball.
New Zealand and Canada