Bandy: A cross between football and ice hockey is played primarily in Scandinavia and Russia

Bandy: A cross between football and ice hockey is played primarily in Scandinavia and Russia

Bandy Battling for the Ball

Battling for the ball

Working in Sweden briefly in late winter some years ago, I was delighted to stumble across the high speed skilled sport of bandy. Thinking it was ice hockey at first sight, the game is actually much closer to football (soccer) on ice in its ways. Played outdoors on a frozen football field (so much much larger than an ice hockey rink), play is a little less aggressive (and the players less padded) than ice hockey though there are plenty of spills, dives and blocks in pursuit of the ball and goals. The goalkeeper isn’t equipped with a stick, fending off attacks with his hands and body protecting a goal similar in size to a football goal.

A colleague explained that the game was the forerunner to ice hockey and emerged from the regal families of Russia several centuries ago. Apparently early ice hockey rules were closer to bandy than the modern game is today.

Fast moving bandy match

Fast moving bandy match

Being born in Australia and not having even having sighted snow until my twenties, trying bandy at the end of a game was more an effort in staying upright while skating than attempting anything skilled with striking the ball.

Unless in search of winter fauna or the northern lights, I’d suggest steering clear of Scandinavian countries in the depths of winter. However if you are there, seek out a bandy match with its enthusiastic crowds and wonderful skating and balls skills – the game they colloquially call “winter football” in Sweden.
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At the start of each month during 2012, Travel Wonders features a popular or characteristic sport or game played or witnessed during my travels. The last two months have shown the athletic Asian game of Sepak Takraw and Spanish game of jai alai or pelota. Earlier articles feature table games such the popular African game mancala, my own personal favourite that always travels with me, Pass the Pigs and the Latin American game of dominoes.

Photo Credits: red/blue flying player, yellow/blue, red/yellow

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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