Ask most people about the sport of Broomball and they will answer in one of three ways – “Never heard of it”, “People still play that?” or “Three generations of my family have played and still play the sport”. It’s an odd phenomenon for a sport in which players from the Ottawa Valley (Carleton Place included) continue to make their mark on the provincial, national and global stage of the sport. Pair that with the fact that Carleton Place co-hosted the 2012 World Broomball Championships and that Carleton Place resident George Brown is the president of the Eastern Ontario Broomball Association (EOBA), an Executive Board Member of Broomball Ontario and a Broomball Hall of Famer and you have to wonder why it isn’t centre stage in town sports?
George and his wife, Ruth (also a Hall of Fame inductee) tireless work for the sport of Broomball and are focused on keeping the sport alive in our area. George travels to area schools promoting the sport, coaches and plays and along with Ruth, organizes some of the largest Broomball tournaments in the country. The very heart of Broomball lives right here in Carleton Place.
It’s clear that all the work is starting to pay off and the youth of this area are starting to get involved. At the 2016 Federations of Broomball Association of Ontario (FBAO) Junior Provincial Championships in Barrie, Eastern Ontario teams won Gold (The Eastern Rebels ) and Bronze (Eastern Storm) in the mixed peewee (players aged 9-12) division, on teams made up of players from Finch, Russell and Carleton Place.
The exact origins of the sport are a bit uncertain. It is believed that the First Nations passed the sport onto settlers in the Barrie area. It has been traced back to the early 1900s when rail workers played it as a way to pass the time in the winter months on outdoor lakes and ponds. In 1976 the Canadian Broomball Federation was formed as the governing body for the sport. The philosophy of the CBF places the athlete at the heart of the organization. Today there are approximately 19,000 registered players in Canada (and an additional 15000 who participate recreationally from age 6-65).
At this year’s 39th FBAO Senior Provincial Broomball Championships (held on March 18-20th in Cornwall), the Ottawa Nationals won their division and will be heading to Owen Sound for the Senior Men’s and Mixed Nationals (April 6th-9th). Also, the Valley Gamblers Master’s team (George included) won their division with an exciting double overtime finish and will also be appearing at the Nationals.
“A number of local players & coaches will be inducted into the CBF (Canadian Broomball Federation) Hall of Fame & winning Awards of Merit- so it’s pretty exciting for all of us.” – Ruth Brown