“LIKE ice hockey, without the ice,” is how members of a community sports club have described the fast-paced game of ball hockey.

Stanley Stingers, one of three clubs in the North-East, which formed four years ago is celebrating after sending seven of its members to international tournaments recently.

Players use ice hockey-style sticks, with a hard plastic ball instead of a puck, and run on a court, rather than skate.

But there is still the need for protection – gum shields, pads and helmets - as the hard balls move at quite a lick.

Coach and player Becky Kasner-Wood said: “This is basically what every Canadian child will grow up playing.

“The difference between this and field hockey is it is played indoors with a longer stick and the goalie is very well protected with more padding.

“There are elements of the play associated with ice hockey. We do get a bit of pushing and shoving with people trying to take you out, but we do try to encourage finesse. Generally, we say ‘no fighting’.”

Mrs Kasney-Wood, 37, from Sacriston, and Kate Parker, 32, from Gateshead, who both work as primary school teachers, have just represented Great Britain in the ISBHF World Championships in Kosice, Slovakia, where they came fifth.

Five young players from the club have also just returned from the Junior World Cup in the Czech Republic.

Three 16-year-olds, Stuart Jackson, from Stanley, Jay Cairns, from Coxhoe, and Adam Harrison, from Billingham, took part in the under-16s, coming sixth.

Annabell Hall, 15, from Leadgate, and Abi Frazer, 16, from Quebec, took part in the under-18s, finishing third.

Mrs Kasner-Wood said: “Our young players at the minute are fantastic.

“Going out to Czech is brilliant and they were ready for it. It is great for their development. We are getting them in young here and giving them competition playing against the older players.

“It is growing the sport and getting everyone involved.”

The club, which formed four years ago meets twice a week, from 7pm to 9pm, for training.

Monday sessions are at North Durham Academy while sessions on Friday are in the Louisa Centre.

Despite the fast-paced drama on court, families have found it is something they can enjoy together.

Stuart McCourt, plays in goal while his daughter, Abi, 13, plays outfield.

David Ray, 40, who lives in Chester-le-Street, plays alongside his seventeen-year-old, Finn.

Mr Ray said: “He started playing ice hockey when he was four but it is really expensive and there is not that many opportunities to do it around here.

“It means I can do it with him. I could not play ice hockey because I cannot ice skate.

“It is fantastic because we are playing on the same level and there are not many sports where you get to play on the same team as your son.

“But it also reminds me of how unfit I am.”

Finn said: “It is exciting and fun, but he is not quite as fast as me.”