Karateka hopes to give new sport a kick in Bay

Mthetho Ndoni

WELL-known karate instructor Michael Kliment has introduced a new sport called floorball to Port Elizabeth and is confident it will capture the imagination of the metro.

Kliment discovered the sport while visiting Europe with his 16-year-old daughter, Mikaila, last year and enjoyed it so much he decided to develop it in South Africa.

Floorball is similar to hockey and is an indoor team sport that was developed in Sweden in the 1970s.

The game is played on a wooden or rubber mat floor or on a basketball court. It is played in 57 countries.

South Africa is affiliated to the International Floorball Federation (IFF), which hosts the annual world championships.

Kliment said floorball was gaining popularity in African countries such as Cameroon, Mozambique and Sierra Leone and he hoped the same would happen in South Africa.

"When I first came across the sport while I was in Czech Republic, it intrigued me and we decided to introduce it to South Africa," Kliment said.

"We've already got some players in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. We've started it as a social sport but we are aiming to develop club leagues once all the provinces have teams."

He said the sport had been registered with the Department of Sport and Recreation and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. The aim was to establish a professional league, like Finland's Salibandyliiga and Sweden's Svenska Superligan.

"People were very excited after we posted our first social game on Facebook recently.

"Floorball can be played by anyone, hence we are planning to spread the sport to schools as well."

Floorball uses a plastic ball and sticks made of carbon-shaft.

"The rules are different from hockey because players can even play the ball with their feet. However, they cannot touch the ball with their hands.

"Each team can field six players in a normal match on the court and the game is played over three periods lasting 20 minutes each."

Kliment said they were using the basketball court at Kings Beach for their games but were searching for a permanent indoor venue.

They were hoping to develop the sport in Grahamstown, East London and Queenstown soon.