Broomball

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Broomball is one of the many sports in Moscow that you have to do some searching to find out about. To find out the who, where and how, I went to the Anglo-American school of Moscow where some of the players of the Canadian Broomball team work.

It was Bryn Will, a cute young lady with long curly hair who invited me to meet her co-Broomball players. She has been living in Moscow for seven years and playing broomball for one year. Last winter was also the first broomball season for Nathan DeSouza who has been in Moscow for a year. Positive and stylish Canadian Jennifer Delane has played for the team for two years. Cindi Hogwood, a sport-loving lady with big blue eyes knows a lot about the history of Moscow Broomball as she has been playing it for 6 years. They are all keen on Broomball because it gives them the opportunity to get out during the dark winter, meet new people and make friends outside the work bubble.

Broomball is an ice game originating in Canada. It is played in a hockey rink, either indoors or outdoors. There are two teams, each consisting of six players: a goaltender and five others. Tactics and rules are similar to those used in ice hockey and roller hockey.

Moscow Broomball was founded approximately 60 years ago right after the end of World War II when countries were establishing their diplomatic missions here. Diplomats and their families from the British and the German Embassies created the Moscow Broomball League to keep fit, and meet other diplomatic expats in Moscow. For many decades no one but foreigners played Moscow Broomball. Only within the past two years has each team been allowed to have two Russians.

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The Moscow broomball league consists of 10 men’s teams and 5 women’s, with matches held every winter from the end of December onwards. At the moment, Broomball is played on a tennis court on the territory of the German Embassy. The court is flooded with water and allowed to freeze. Snow that falls on the court is pushed to the sides to create a bank that helps to contain the ball.
Moscow broomball differs from the way the game is played in other countries. “The markings of the court are not the same as a standard broomball rink size. The court is much smaller in Moscow. Broomball sticks are made by hand from the straw brushes. They are shorter than regular broomball sticks. A wrist loop is also attached to the stem of the stick to avoid losing it,” Jennifer explains.
Bryn says that the rules of the game in Moscow also differ a little. In Moscow, broomball players have more ice contact. “The stick is shorter and the ice-rink is smaller, so players get down more than in regular broomball,” Bryn adds. These peculiarities bring more fun to the game. The team-members are open to newcomers. It is not necessarily to be a huge sports fanatic to play broomball. Cindi says that to join the team you only need to call one of the team captains.
The list of the phone numbers is on the site:

You don’t have to be a diplomat to play with us. Most of the players are not from an Embassy,” Cindi added.
Broomball equipment is similar to that used in ice hockey. Padded shorts, elbow pads and leg guards are a must and no one is allowed onto the ice without a helmet. Second in importance are special broomball shoes. It is not obligatory to buy all the equipment at once. Different teams have different policies. The best way to learn what you need for a game is to contact one of the captains.
Cindi adds that each team has its own traditions. “We bring a bottle of champagne with us, to toast and laugh after the game. We are competitive when we want to be but most of the time it is about having fun and not talking about work. We enjoy ourselves. Broomball is actually something I look forward to when the winter comes,” Cindi says.

The Moscow Broomball league has a number of parties throughout the year. “There is an October festival at the German Embassy. It’s a carnival party right before the winter begins. There is also a ball at the end of April or May. These events are done within the league. Individual teams also have parties. For example the Canadian women’s team had a stick making party,” Jennifer continues.

Sandy, Jennifer, Bryn and Nathan find that the Moscow expat community has done a good job coming up with a kind of competitive but refined way to play sports. “There are over 30 sport leagues in Moscow. This is a well developed infrastructure with great opportunities for the newcomers to meet people outside and socialize,” Cindi concludes.

If you want to play Broomball in Moscow, contact one of the team captains, details can be found on the broomball website: www.moscowbroomball.org