Women's world floorball tournament underway in Wellington for the first time
The New Zealand women's floorball team will be hoping home court advantage comes into play at a six-day tournament in Wellington.
Athletes from eight countries including China, Japan and Australia, have descended on ASB Sports Centre for the Asia Oceania Women's World Championship qualifying tournament - the first time it has been held in New Zealand.
Each team is vying for one of four spots at the championships in Slovakia later this year and New Zealand head coach Sven Sundin said the competition was a big deal for his side.
"We've been working towards it for a very long time and it's really where we have to prove to ourselves that we are up there and can make it to the World Championship playoffs."
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The team is a mix of old and new players, with most coming from Wellington. "They know the floor really well here [at ASB Sports Centre] so hopefully that helps us," Sundin said.
The competition consists of two pools made up of four teams who will play three round-robin games with the top two teams in each pool qualifying for the World Championship event.
New Zealand goalkeeper Maria Hegarty said the tournament was a big deal for the side, who were still fairly new to the international scene.
"We've got a really good team bond and good skills so we can only go up from here. The camaraderie aspect really spurs you on as a player."
Floorball is a type of indoor hockey, played with five field players and a goalkeeper in each team. It's a sport that has been gaining popularity at a national and international level.
Floorball New Zealand general secretary Christian Bertschinger hoped the fast-paced nature of the sport, along with the high level of talent on display would result in a sizeable crowd over the six days.
"We invite Wellingtonians to come down and welcome the teams, including those from China and Thailand who have never competed in a tournament of this nature before."
* The Asia-Oceania qualification tournament for 2017 World Floorball Championships runs until February 5 at Wellington's ASB Sports Centre, Kemp St, Kilbirnie.
* It will be streamed live at youtube.com/user/iffchannel.