Breaking the Ice: Providing Truly Inclusive Sporting Opportunities

25 Nov 2010 By IPC

Planet Ice and the British Sledge Hockey Association (BSHA) are delighted to announce a revolutionary project to develop and promote Ice Sledge Hockey throughout the UK.

Planet Ice are going to provide free ice time at each of their rinks worth approximately £50,000 per year to enable the BSHA to launch and operate Ice Sledge Hockey Teams at each of the rinks they operate. In addition Planet Ice and the BSHA are going to launch a new charity which will provide training and equipment to enable teams to be set-up with competitive equipment and fully supported volunteers and coaches.

The Arena Group, owners of the Planet Ice brand, own and operate nine ice rinks in the UK, with a great geographic spread. They will be formerly announcing the relationship between themselves, BSHA, at an opening ceremony of their new development called ‘The Leisurebox’ in Digbeth, Birmingham on 25 November 2010.

John Neville, Director of Operations for the group commented: “Birmingham ice rink has an incredible affinity with the Olympics: both John Curry OBE and Wilf O’Reilly MBE, trained within the building prior to their World Championship and Olympic Gold successes.

“It therefore seems appropriate that we can today announce that we are extending this to the Paralympic Sport of Sledge Hockey. We would love to see potential Paralympic champions in Sledge Hockey training in Planet Ice facilities.

“We were incredibly impressed by the ambition and professionalism of the BSHA and felt that we wanted to do more than just provide facilities in order to support and promote an exciting sport that is fully inclusive. It is clear that Sledge Hockey is a sport that has a lot to offer; speed, adrenaline, skill and team work.

“The fact that it is fully inclusive and can be played by people regardless of whether or not they are disabled or able bodied is something that we believe can bring families and friends together and also makes ice rinks more accessible as it allows people to participate without being having to ice skate.”

Ice Sledge Hockey is a variant of ice hockey played on ice, using sledges to allow participants to move about the rink at high speeds hitting a puck travelling at speeds of up to 100kph. Players sit in adapted sledges, propelling themselves with sticks adapted to allow propulsion in a manner similar to skiing. As players are strapped to a sledge everybody has the same restrictions, regardless of whether or not the player has a disability.

Matt Lloyd, Chairman of the BSHA also commented: “This is an exciting opportunity for sport in this country. Whilst people are clearly focused on London 2012 I think it’s important that we remember that not everybody wants to participate in a summer sport and we provide an attractive alternative which is totally free for members of the public to try and that can be enjoyed by everybody and anybody.”

A total of 10 countries including Great Britain are set to take part in the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey European Championships in Solleftea, Sweden, from 12-20 February 2011.