In April 2018, the Roundhouse opened its doors to its first wheelchair sport program, wheelchair floorball. Though similar in many ways to floor hockey, wheelchair floorball further combines rules from soccer and basketball to create a fast-paced and inclusive sport. Team Canada wheelchair floorball captain Kyle Gieni worked with Roundhouse programmer Val Ferrari to bring the sport to the centre and shared some insights with us about his connection to floorball and the value of community centres offering space for practice.
How did you become involved in wheelchair floorball?
I became involved in the sport in 2013 when our wheelchair floor hockey group heard about a floorball tournament in the Netherlands. We started practicing with different equipment and minor rule adjustments, then put a Canadian team together to play at the ParaGames in Breda, where we placed fourth out of seven competing countries.
Have you played other wheelchair sports and how do you find wheelchair floorball compares?
I’ve played sledge hockey, wheelchair table tennis, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball and find wheelchair floorball much more team-oriented than other group wheelchair sports where one or two players tend to lead games. It also has a faster pace than other technical wheelchair sports such as basketball or rugby.
What value does the sport provide to you and other athletes?
There is a physical aspect where you’re having so much fun you don’t realize you’re getting a workout and life skills such as team-work, fair-play, confidence and personal growth, not to mention all the lasting friendships that come along with sport.
How did you connect with the Roundhouse?
Leisure Access Coordinator, Dawn Livesley, connected us with a couple of community centres in the City of Vancouver with facilities available for wheelchair floorball, and the Roundhouse was one of two that had confirmed space available for our group.
What value do you see in Community Centres throughout Vancouver offering space for Wheelchair Sports?
Offering space for wheelchair sports makes it inclusive for all types of people in the community to access physical activity close to home. No person should be excluded from participating in community programs due to their physical disability, or any disability, for that matter. Wheelchair sports are not only for the disabled athletes; they can be played by anybody who wants to participate. Wheelchair floorball in particular does not discriminate against anyone and welcomes all to come try this amazing and inclusive game.
As one of the newest additions to Roundhouse’s list of programming, wheelchair floorball is now available to players of all abilities on Thursdays from 6-7:45pm in the Roundhouse Gym from April 5 to August 30.