“We have improved a lot from Sochi 2014 and I am happy to say this is the best team Italy ever had.”
As reigning European Champions and with three Paralympic Games behind them, the Italian ice sledge hockey team is constantly growing and aiming for better results in the future.
With an eye to PyeongChang 2018, the team’s coach Massimo Da Rin and captain Andrea Chiarotti have revealed their top three goals for the next three years, beginning at the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool in Buffalo, New York, USA, from 26 April-May.
In the immediate future, they hope to retain their sixth place from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. However, they cannot hide that they have even higher expectations.
“The best result would be reaching the fifth place, in order to boost our position in the world ranking and get access to the Paralympic Club” Chiarotti said.
In the mid-term, both Chiarotti and Da Rin still see themselves within the Italian ice sledge hockey scene even though some changes cannot be ruled out.
“Whether working for the team directly or at the CIP (Italian Paralympic Committee), I will still be backing the Italian team”, Chiarotti said. “Physically talking, it is getting harder and harder for me to play. Considering my age [he will turn 50 next year] I do not exclude to return coaching one day, as I used to do in 2003 when the Italian team was established.”
While Chiarotti does not deny a future return to the sidelines might be possible, current coach Da Rin is aiming at building the best possible team by focusing on young and talented players.
“I am working to let the team grow especially on the technical side. We have improved a lot from Sochi 2014 and I am happy to say this is the best team Italy ever had,” he said.
When it comes to long-term expectations, both Chiarotti and Da Rin agree on the same goal. That is qualifying for PyeongChang 2018 for the team’s fourth Paralympic Winter Games in a row. And that’s not all. Although being amongst the four best teams in the World by 2018 would be a massive achievement, they believe it is time to dream big.
“With three years to go to the next Winter Paralympics and with such a talented team, we start thinking about our first Paralympic medal. After all, that’s what the Paralympic dream is all about” they said.
Italy will play Germany in their opening Group B game at Buffalo 2015 on Sunday (26 April).
A full schedule, live coverage and live results are available at Buffalo2015.com.