Amateurs out to wipe the floor with world’s best Floorballers

Floor ball players Michael Woods, Andrew Woods, Mitchell George and Shaun Frazer.
Floor ball players Michael Woods, Andrew Woods, Mitchell George and Shaun Frazer.

 AUSTRALIAN floorballers may not be professional, have their own cook or even dedicated courts, but Newcastle’s Shaun Frazer is confident they can surprise the heavyweights at the world championships in Sweden come December.

Frazer and fellow Newcastle Floorball Association members Michael and Andrew Woods and Mitchell George are part of the 19-man Australian squad for the biennial championships.

The sport, which is often described as ice hockey without the ice or skates, is popular in Scandinavian countries.

Sweden (seven) and Finland (two) have won all of the nine world championships held and boast floorball’s two professional leagues, the Salibandyliiga (Finland) and Svenska Superligan (Sweden).

On a recent tour to Italy the Swedish professional side were accompanied by a cook.

In contrast, Newcastle has a social competition which has been shifted between Gateshead Sports Centre, the Forum at Callaghan and Newcastle Basketball Stadium.

Newcastle is also part of the predominantly Sydney-based NSW Elite Floorball Series and has negotiated to host two home games at the basketball stadium next month for the first time.

‘‘We’re not world beaters, by any stretch of the imagination,’’ Frazer said. ‘‘We self-fund all of our own equipment, whereas we’re playing against professionals.

‘‘It would be like picking up a player from a national American rugby league team and throwing them up against the Melbourne Storm. They’d have a red-hot crack at it, but you’re not going to put your house on it.’’

In the 10th World Floorball Championships in Gothenburg from December 5 to 14, world No.17 Australia will play the higher-ranked Russia (ninth), Canada (11th) and Denmark (14th). But Frazer remains buoyant about Australia’s chances.

That confidence stems from an impressive showing at the qualifiers in Wellington, New Zealand, in February.

Australia breezed past South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore to qualify as the top country in the Asia-Pacific region.

It will be Australia’s first world championships since their sole appearance at the 2010 tournament in Helsinki and Vantaa, Finland.

‘‘In all honesty, we’re quite excited about this,’’ Frazer said.

‘‘In qualification, in our closest game we won 7-2, so we’re looking forward to testing ourselves and this is the strongest side I’ve even seen from Australia.’’

Frazer is a forward and  plays first-grade field hockey with Hunter Coast Premier League club Norths. 

Michael and Andrew Woods, who play centre and defence respectively, are first-grade hockey players at Wests.

George is one of two goalkeepers in the national squad, with West Australian Vladimir Plocek, and has finetuned his skills in football.

Fraser said George’s game time in Sweden would depend on the tactics employed by national coach Daniel Dornak.

‘‘It’s an equal split and the coach picks the goalkeeper depending on how the other team plays and what sort of shooting structures they use,’’ he said.

‘‘I believe Mitch gets put in when the opposition move it around more, as he moves across the court much better.’’