Brian and Leigh Radichel hadn’t lived in Flower Mound for barely a minute when they discovered the game of floorball at the Flower Mound Community Activity Center. It was 2012, and the immediate thought was that this would be a great way to keep their two young boys active and involved in something other than video games.
Plus, they were all hockey fans, and floorball — a fun cross between hockey and soccer that doesn’t require a ton of equipment or costs — was the next best thing. But like many things in life, one thing led to another.
Before anyone could blink, Brian was the North Texas Floorball Association President, a certified referee, and a color commentator for ESPN. He even spent time as a player, and his boys were playing all over the country. In 2020, they were asked to join a new semi-professional league in North America that would grow the sport beyond a simple pickup game and become home to many of the top U.S.-based players and high-end players from around the world.
All they needed next was to create a franchise of their own. And the Fort Worth Jaguars were born.
The NAFL was founded in 2020, and teams began playing in June.
“The goal was to bring higher-end floorball to the Dallas area, and Leigh and I really felt like we could make a go of it,” Brian said with a laugh. “These aren’t amateurs. These are world-class athletes with an incredible amount of skill.”
He added, “The floorball community is growing pretty rapidly, and it’s been fun to see.”
So what is floorball? The sport has been around for years, but it continues to grow in popularity — especially overseas — and is currently one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world. The people who have played or watched describe it as a fast-paced mix of hockey and soccer. Like hockey, it features stick-handling, goals, and penalty timing. But like soccer, it has foul calls, free hits, and similar goalie ball-handling rules. The game is played between two teams of six — five field players and one goalkeeper — on a 40-meter by 20-meter rink divided into two halves by a center stripe.
And the best part is that all you need to play is a lightweight stick, standard court shoes, shorts, and a jersey.
“A lot of hockey fans can’t skate, and people who like ball and stick games can’t afford the equipment. So floorball is great because of its low barrier to entry,” Brian said. “Even goalie equipment is only $40 or $50.”
The four most prominent countries in floorball are all in Europe: Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. But many of those players are competing for the Fort Worth Jaguars. Of the 17 players on their roster, only four are from the U.S. This includes brothers Matthew and Jonathan Yonai of Flower Mound.
The Jaguars are currently one of four clubs in the NAFL. The others are the Orlando Vikings, Fresno Force, and Utah Raptors. The season started on June 24 and concludes on July 22 and 23 when the Jags host all three of those opponents at Nytex Arena in Fort Worth. After four weekends of regular season play, the four highest-ranked teams will meet for a two-day tournament to determine the winner of the league’s championship trophy, the Troy Cup.
“The game is affordable, and the tickets are affordable, too. It’s just a lot of fun all around,” Brian said. “We’ve reached the point where we are starting to bring in more domestic players who love the sport and want to compete in a higher-end setting. Our brand of floorball allows them to do that.”
To learn more about the Fort Worth Jaguars, visit ftwjaguars.com.