I started this post last week but given the work load as a referee during the tournament, I didn't get a chance to come back and finish the post:
I'm not on the bike this week- I am in Penrith at the Australian National Broomball Championships. I'm not playing but performing as a referee over the four days of the tournament.
So what is broomball? It's a lot like ice hockey but the players wear special soft-soled shoes which provide a considerable amount of grip.
The broom has a plastic-head on a wood or metal shaft.
The ball is made of quite-flexible plastic and is inflated to keep its shape and handling characteristics- it's about the size of a large grapefruit. The ball tends to get harder/freeze as the game progresses due to being in contact with the ice. If the ball gets too hard, we replace it during the game to prevent the ball from splitting when players take a shot (and it hurts considerably more when you get hit by a frozen ball).
Teams play five per side on the ice plus a goalkeeper- generally two defenders and three forwards.
I used to play broomball and referee as well but have done neither since 2007. Earlier this year I was asked by the Referee-in-Chief of Broomball Australia if I could help them out- travel and accomodation paid. And so here I am in Penrith--- freezing. Not really freezing but it is a considerable temperature adjustment from Townsville (28-30C and sunny) to Penrith (12-24C and wet/overcast- and the ice rink has a multiplier effect I'm sure).
So from Thursday through Sunday I spent the majority of my waking hours at the ice rink either refereeing or on stand-by in case one of the other refs was injured/sick/hungover/etc/etc and couldn't perform their role.
My last tally showed I actually ref'd 20 games and was on standby for another 14. Now, I do cycle quite a bit and for a bloke who's 50+ I'm not in bad shape. But running on ice uses a few different muscles and by Friday night, I could hardly hobble back to the room. Thankfully Saturday provided a break until 5:00pm although we did go through until almost 1:30 Sunday morning and then were back at the rink for 6:30 on Sunday morning.
All up it was good fun and if it helps advance a lesser known sport- so much the better. I even got asked if I was interested in going to Ottawa, Canada for the 2012 World Championships; both as a player and as an official.
Tomorrow (Sunday- Mother's Day) is our Team Time Trial out at Cungulla. Just loaded up on red beans and rice and looking forward to a bit of fun in the morning.
Images of the broomball equipment are from the D-Gel website: http://www.d-gel.com/english/english.htm