Looking to build up the game of broomball

There was a time, albeit roughly 25 to 30 years ago, when broomball was a viable sport in Alberta and western Canada in general. The game hasn’t disappeared entirely from these parts, but it’s all but faded away. Meanwhile, broomball has become increasingly popular in countries such as Japan, Italy and Switzerland in recent years.

There was a time, albeit roughly 25 to 30 years ago, when broomball was a viable sport in Alberta and western Canada in general.

The game hasn’t disappeared entirely from these parts, but it’s all but faded away. Meanwhile, broomball has become increasingly popular in countries such as Japan, Italy and Switzerland in recent years.

Still, as much as interest in the sport has dwindled in the Great White North, Canada is still No. 1 in the world.

“It’s a lot like women’s hockey, that’s what I compare it to, in the sense that the U.S. is also really competitive,” said Red Deer businessman Curtis Debogorski, who last month captained the Yellowknife, N.W.T., Ravens to the men’s world championship in Japan.

“Canada is definitely ahead of the pack, but — going back to 2000 — we’ve started to see some of these countries that have been weaker, like Italy and Japan, have been getting better and better because they’ve learned how to play systems and defend better. These countries still don’t have the scoring power that Canada has because we have a lot of people who have played hockey when they were growing up and the skills are similar.

“You’re handling a ball instead of a puck, but you’re still shooting on net and you have to be able to get that ball into some tight spaces. It is more difficult to score because of the size of the ball, which is bigger than a puck. Still, these other countries have come a long way from being beat 14, 15 and 16-0. Now the games are 4-1, 5-1, 3-0 . . . so we’re starting to see the gap close a bit, which is good to see.”

In the world championship final, Debogorski scored an insurance goal to help the Ravens defeat the Calgary Cowboys 3-0 in an all-Canadian match. Also entered in the men’s divisions were teams from Australia, Japan, Italy, the U.S. and Switzerland, with the same countries also represented in the masters, women’s and mixed divisions.

The Ravens are a high-performance, all-star team that competes at the national level and is based out of Yellowknife. Six of the players hail from the northern city, with the rest coming from different parts of the nation.

“We competed in the worlds in Ottawa two years ago and lost a semifinal in overtime,” said Debogorski, who relocated from Yellowknife to Red Deer in August of last year. “We realized how close we were and that we could win a world title. We wanted to go to Japan and experience the culture and have a chance to win a world championship.

“It (formation of the present Ravens team) started at that point two years ago. We just got fortunate that the right players were available. We put together a good character group and we definitely executed our plan.”

Debogorski, 39, is nearing the end of his competitive playing days, at least at the men’s level.

His goal is to compete with the Ravens at the worlds in Regina in 2016 — the global crown is contested every second year — and then put most of his efforts into restoring broomball’s visibility in Red Deer.

“I’m hoping to bring some awareness to the sport and as I slowly work my way out of playing I do want to get into running clinics and doing some coaching,” he said.

“I worked with the junior development program in the Northwest Territories and I’m hoping to bring something like that to the Red Deer area because it is such a great sporting community . . . I’ve learned that quickly. Broomball is a great alternative to hockey and ringette and other sports that are out there.

“In the ‘80s there were up to 18 to 20 teams in Edmonton and Calgary, it was a really huge sport in the province. It’s getting a lot more popular internationally but it’s been slowly dying in Canada because the grass roots programs started to die while competing against so many other sports.”

Debogorski plans to employ the resources of the Alberta Broomball Association while running clinics at the junior high and high school levels.

“The Association can supply sticks and shoes for kids to try the sport,” he said. “Growing the sport in this city is a goal of mine because broomball has given me a lot. It’s a sport that can be played at an introductory level and all the way up to elite women’s and men’s at an international level.”

The broomball veteran/star is thankful of the fact that the game has a solid following in Sylvan Lake.

“They’ve assembled a decent group of players in the community and have hosted provincials the last two to three years,” said Debogorski. “There is some interest and a bit of a groundswell there.

“Now it’s just a matter of getting organized and getting the right people involved and sort of getting that awareness out there in Red Deer.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read