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Articles: Bandy


Bandy is a team winter sport best described as a combination of football and ice hockey. The game is played on ice rinks about the size of a football field and skaters use bowed sticks to hit a small round ball and direct it into the opposing team’s goal cage.

Sometimes referred to as “Russian hockey”, the name “bandy” comes from Britain and both Russia and England are countries that played an important role in the development of the game. Although a game similar to modern bandy was played in Russia at the beginning of the 18th century, the first official bandy match took place in London in 1875 at the Crystal Palace.

Bandy is considered to be the precursor of ice hockey and for the entire 20th century the two sports remained alongside in countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden. However, ice hockey rose in popularity when it became an Olympic Sport in 1920. This fact lead a lot of European athletes to switch from bandy to ice hockey so they could compete in the Olympics.

The first Bandy World Championship took place in 1957 and during the period of 1961 - 2003 the championship was held every two years. Since 2003 the championship is held annually and the current record for participating countries is 17. From the total of 35 Bandy World championship editions, 23 were won by the Soviet Union/Russia, 11 by Sweden and one time by Finland in 2004.

A Bandy match

The game is played between two opposing teams. Each team consists of 11 players without the substitutes, strategically placed on the field in order to cover various positions.

The official bandy equipment consists of skates, helmet, mouth guard and face guard for the goalkeeper and protection equipment for knees, elbows, genitals and throat. Players use bandy sticks made of materials such as wood in order to hit a small round ball.

A bandy field is about the size of a football field measuring 45-65 meters (148–213 ft) by 90–110 metres (300–360 ft). In order to prevent the ball from leaving the ice, the field is surrounded by a 15 cm (6 inch) high border. The goal cage is 3.5 meters (11 ft) wide, 2.1 meters (6 ft 11 in) high and in front of it there is a half-circular penalty area with a radius of 17 meters (56 ft).

How a Bandy match begins.

In a bandy team each player has a specialized role and covers a special position on the field according to team’s formation and tactics established by the team’s coach. Each team has a goalkeeper, forwards, defenders and midfielders. Forwards main task is to speculate any weakness in opposing team’s defence in order to score goals. Midfielders’ role is to keep possession of the ball and pass it to forwards while defenders are specialised in preventing the opponents from scoring and initiating counter-attacks. One member of the team is selected as the captain and although the title is frequently honorary in some cases a captain has a significant responsibility for strategy and teamwork.

Just like football, a bandy match is divided in two halves of 45 minutes with 15 minutes “half-time” break in between. The match is supervised by a referee who can be assisted by one or two assistant referees. At the beginning of a bandy match, the rink side is chosen by coin toss performed by the referee. The winner of the coin toss picks the side while the losing team will start with the ball.

Main rules and tactics for playing Bandy.

During the match, players are allowed to use the bandy stick to move the ball and score into opposing team's goal cage. This is accomplished by players through individual control such as dribbling, passing the ball to team players or performing direct shots at the goal. Players cannot touch the ball intentionally with their arms, hands or heads. Failure to do so will result in a time penalty.

The purpose of the game is to score as many goals as possible in the allocated time period. The winner of the game is the team with most goals scored. In the event both teams have an equal number of scored goals, the match is considered a draw.

During a match there are two basic states of play: ball in play and ball out of play. A ball is “in play” from the beginning of the match until the end of a playing period while a ball is “out of play” only when the ball leaves the area of the playing field or the game is stopped by the referee.

Teams can take various strategic actions through team formation and general tactics which are established by the team manager prior or during the match. The layout of the players and the number of players in each position determines the style of the team’s play. For a more aggressive and offensive style of play the coach might place more forwards and fewer defenders on the field while for a defensive style of play the team layout would focus on more defenders and lesser forwards, relying more on quick counter-attacks.

Unlike Ice hockey, bandy is considered to be a less-contact sport. Power and force are less important than strategy and speed. The whole game is built on flow and manoeuvrability of the ball at high speed. Fast ball movement between teammates is critical in order to speculate any mistake in opposing team’s defence and is especially important for initiating counter-attacks. Players must be able to perform high precision shots using anything from full golf-like swings to gentle two-handed volleying with most goal attempts being performed inside the half-circular penalty area.

Bandy competitions

Part of the national culture in Sweden, bandy is also extremely popular in Russia being played by more than one million people. Because the game requires access to a bandy ice rink, the game is played mostly in Baltic and Scandinavian regions with cold climates although there are an increasing number of countries taking an interest in this great winter sport.

The Bandy World Championship for men is the biggest bandy competition held annually. In 2014, 17 nations participated in the tournament and several countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Armenia and Poland expressed their interest in participating in future tournaments. Since 2004 the Bandy World Championship is organized for women as well with Sweden as the dominant nation.

Opposed to the Bandy World Championship which is a competition between bandy-playing nations, the Bandy World Cup is a club competition which takes place annually in Sweden at the beginning of the bandy season, in autumn. Inaugurated in 1974, the tournament has been dominated by clubs from Sweden and Russia and since 2009 the tournament has been organized indoors due to unpredictable weather that affects the ice.

Other important bandy competitions are the FIB Champions Cup which is a club tournament held indoors in Edsbyn, Sweden and featuring clubs from Russia and Sweden and also the Swedish Elitserien which is the highest bandy league in Sweden and the most established bandy league in the world.

The international governing body for Bandy is the Federation of International Bandy (FIB) which was formed in 1955 and currently having 32 national members.

Bandy betting opportunities

Most bookmakers offer bandy betting opportunities during the above mentioned competitions. Popular bandy betting opportunities include bet markets like: (1×2 Match winner) - Bet on who will win the match; (Handicap) - Goal handicap offered for the underdog team; (Goal Totals) - Total number of goals scored by both teams.