Array

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.”

Just Posted

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month