Although the sport is now much more organized, for many, their first experience remains the same as for those who first played ball hockey. It simply involved a few friends or family members, an open area, such as a roadway or parking lot near their home, some rocks or bricks to mark the goalposts, a tennis ball, old hockey sticks, and the game was on.
The official version of street or ball hockey is a relatively young sport, with a very short modern history, but its roots can be traced back to similar games played with a ball and stick. The first documented history of such a game, called hurling, dates back to the second millennium BC when it was played in Ireland. The word hockey derives from a similar game played by the Native Indians in North America, firstly observed in 1572.
The development of ball hockey until recently has closely followed that of ice hockey, as it has spread around the world in the northern (colder) climates. Formally organized street or ball hockey leagues, in its modern form, grew independently in several countries, Canada (late 1960s), the USA (early 1970s), Austria, Czechia, and Slovakia (1980s), Finland, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland (early 1990s). Due to its close relationship with ice hockey, street and ball hockey developed with similar rules throughout these countries. After the political changes in Eastern Europe in 1989, international exchanges flourished, and included cross-Atlantic competitions as early as 1991, leading to the establishment of the International Street & Ball Hockey Federation in 1993, and the bi-annual World Junior and Senior Championships, which commenced in 1996. The past few years have seen an explosion of the game in tropical nations, and in the orient where it’s ease of play is very attractive. The Canadian version of the game began to take its shape in the late 1960s in Toronto, Ontario, with Habitant Arena hosting a summer program in 1969, and some speculate that it may have even started the year before in the east end of the city. The first plastic orange ball was introduced by Arnold Herka, of Viceroy Rubber, to George Butterwick who was operating a Toronto league circa 1970, and the game has never looked back.