A large crowd was treated to some very competitive broomball last weekend at the Finch Youth Broomball Tournament. There were three divisions, U9, U12 and U16 and teams from Finch, Russell, Vankleek Hill and Carleton Place all took part. Tinkess Photo

FINCH – When the Finch Youth Broomball Tournament wrapped up just before noon on Sunday, organizers were examining how many ways it had been a success, and none of those ways involved winning or losing.

The tournament, which is in its 26th year, ran from Friday evening until Sunday morning, and hosted 19 youth teams with players ranging from four years to 15 years in three categories: U9, U12 and U16. Teams from Finch, Russell, Vankleek Hill and Carleton Place all took part.

Cynthia Daoust, tournament coordinator explained the different ways the tournament could be considered a success. “It’s been super, we started out Friday night with overtime and from there we knew we were going to be in for it the whole weekend.”

Daoust says the sport is healthy in this area and has been enjoying a bit of a growth spurt. “The leagues have strengthened; we have three full leagues now. The Finch Youth Broomball program has expanded such that the U9 division has four teams. They’ve gone from a little over 22 (players) to 56 and that is three- to seven-year-old in that division. That means there will be growth coming in the older groups.”

The teams are well balanced as well. The finals, which were played on Sunday morning were low-scoring and overtime was a regular occurrence. “The games are tight; you’re only getting one goal,” said Daoust. “The coaching is fantastic everywhere and the parents are very supportive.”

The second “success” that was achieved on Saturday involved the Juvenile teams. “Two of the Juvenile teams from Eastern Ontario are representing Ontario at Nationals, which will be in Saskatchewan in March. That costs each player close to $2,000 a piece to do, so they are fundraising.

“We had the Eastern Panthers, (the boys’ team) do a door prize and a 50/50 draw yesterday and the Eastern Thunder (girls’ team) did a breakfast and a bake table, and they all did very well.”

The third success would be the referees, who always seemed willing to take a moment to help some of the younger players learn the game. “When our U9s are out there, we have our junior refs who enjoy participating as refs,” says Daoust. “It gives them an opportunity to work in a tournament format instead of just a regular league, which is what they support. We try to build the program by using the tournament as a base to do that.”

Broomball is an interesting sport. As a Canadian heritage sport, it is also a generational sport in the sense that many of the U9 players are continuing a tradition that was a part of a winter lifestyle for their parents and grandparents. It isn’t restricted to Canada though. “It is amazing where you find it,” said Daoust. “We had the ladies World Championship trophy here yesterday. Team Canada won Worlds this year in Kingston and in two years they will be going to France.

“There are leagues in Japan, Australia, throughout Europe, Canada and the US and other parts of the world too. You don’t get to hear about it unless you really get into certain Facebook sites, and when it comes up closer to Worlds you get to see what teams are coming from [and] where.”

For Daoust the wrapping up of this tournament is bittersweet as she is stepping away, now that her son has “aged-out” and is away at school. “I’ve been the keeper of it because I value what comes out of the tournament format, and this tournament in particular.

This year, having the tournament seemed particularly important. “It needed to come,” said Daoust. “It’s been out for three years, because of Covid. Look at what we had this weekend. They were ready, they wanted it and they needed it.” The approximately 1,000 spectators who took in the games would probably agree.

If you would like to learn more about the Finch Broomball league, you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FinchYouthBroomball/