|First played||1960's in Sweden|
|Team members||5-6 players per side|
|Type||Team sport, winter sport|
|Equipment||Bandy ice skates, bandy ball, bandy sticks, protective gear|
|Country or region||Sweden, Russia, Finland, USA|
Rink bandy and rinkball are variants of the larger sport of bandy and are both played on significantly smaller ice rinks. While a bandy rink is about the same size as a football pitch, rink bandy and rinkball are both played on ice hockey rinks.
Rink bandy originated in Sweden in the 1960s and was originally called hockeybockey.With the arrival of indoor ice hockey arenas, it was a way for bandy players to practice on ice for a longer time of the year by making use of the new indoor facilities. Due to the fact that bandy fields are larger than ice hockey rinks, bandy-ready playing surfaces were still only made outdoors in the wintertime when artificial freezing was unnecessary.
The game of rink bandy uses a bandy ball and bandy sticks. The goalkeeper has no stick. A rink bandy game lasts 60 minutes but is composed of either two 30 minute halves or three 20 minute periods. Similar rules to bandy are used, but they are simplified to increase the pace of the game. Checking is prohibited, making the sport relatively safer than its relatives.
Because of the smaller playing area used in rink bandy compared to its larger parent sport, there are fewer players, normally six a side. In America, the USA Rink Bandy League, uses five players instead of the usual six because of the smaller ice hockey rinks in the USA.
Rinkball or kaukalopallo is a similar game, with the most immediately observable difference being its equipment. Rinkball goaltenders do not use goalsticks of any kind, and unlike its predecessor, bandy, rinkball goaltenders use ice hockey trappers on both hands. Players use sport-specific sticks created for rinkball, which are in closer resemblance to ice hockey sticks than bandy sticks. Like bandy and rink bandy, rinkball uses a ball and not an ice hockey puck. However, in rinkball the ball is a blue color as opposed to the orange or cerise color used in bandy and its rink bandy variant.
Rink bandy is governed by the Federation of International Bandy. In its quest to have bandy accepted into the programme of the Winter Olympics, rink bandy is an important way for the Federation of International Bandy to gain more members, thus also spreading bandy, since many countries, which lack a full-size field and where the game is still new, only play rink bandy at home but still participate in the Bandy World Championship.
As artificially frozen and indoor bandy arenas have become more prevalent, the interest for rink bandy has dwindled in the main bandy-playing nations (Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway). There are still several rink bandy tournaments in Russia, Турнир на призы Святейшего Патриарха Московского и всея Руси ) for children at Moscow's Red Square.including the Patriarch Cup (
A world cup for rink bandy clubs was held every year from 1984-1998 in Hofors, Sweden, and called Hofors World Cup. Rink bandy was included in the programme of the 2012 European Company Sports Gamesand a European championship existed, though there is currently no top-level international competition. However, in 2017 the Federation of International Bandy decided to hold an international tournament for developing bandy countries in Nymburk, Czech Republic and an international rink bandy club competition called Dniprobandy has been organised by the Ukrainian Bandy and Rink bandy Federation. In Germany, the national bandy championship is played under rink bandy rules.
Rinkball known as kaukalopallo in Finnish where the sport is currently played the most, was originally born in Sweden in the 1960s and from there landed in Finland in the 1970s. The sport was developed from both ice hockey and bandy and initially used as a practice drill for bandy players in Sweden who were using ice hockey rinks. By the 1980s it had begun to emerge as an organized sport with its own rules and equipment which differed considerably from ice hockey.
The first Finnish championships were held in 1975. However, the sport didn't come to the attention of the wider public in Finland until the 1980s with the first Finland-Sweden national match played in 1984.
To date, the golden age for the sport is considered to have been during the 1990s when the best registration levels were estimated to be more than 100,000 and more than 1,000 teams.
The popularity of rinkball has been steadily declining in Finland since the 1990s. Reasons for the decline in the number of enthusiasts include the growing popularity of ice hockey and floorball in the 1990s, the lack of junior activity in the sport, and the differences between the sports federations which have continued well into the 2010s.
In the mid-2000s, it was estimated that 50,000 enthusiasts of the sport existed. However, by 2019, the number was only a few thousand and the sport's greatest popularity was in the age-old series.
In the 1970s rinkball grew from being played in local tournaments by villagers around Finland to national-level competitions involving 100 teams or more. The sport first gained international attention in 1984 when teams from Finland and Sweden hosted one another. The International Rinkball Association was formed soon after, and in the late 1990s included Russia, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Switzerland, Hungary, Finland and the United States.The Finnish Rinkball Federation has 1000 teams, including women, men and children. Play is divided into eight male divisions, two female divisions, and children's play is divided by age. The first World Championship Games for men was held in Omsk, Russia, in 1998.
The Rinkball League in Finland publishes a magazine called Liiga Extra, which offers international coverage of tournaments, equipment, and tips. A national championship between the Finnish leagues is held annually (as of 2016 [update] ).
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