“To date, we have gathered a dozen people and now I invite all interested persons with disabilities to join us in training in Zagreb, and next year we could play the first match.”
The Croatian National Paralympic Committee (NPC) held its first demonstration event for ice sledge hockey in December, after receiving 12 sledges through the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Equipment Loaner Programme in partnership with Ottobock.
Ratko Kovacic, the President of the NPC, Marko Husic, Director at Ottobock Adria, and Marko Kocijan, the head coach of the new programme, were joined by national media at the Sport Hall in the capital Zagreb.
Croatia aim to establish a national ice sledge hockey team, alongside other countries who have benefitted from the programme including Norway, whose objective was to support existing clubs, and Italy who have been expanding the sport into new regions.
A short game was held to allow the gathered media to see the sport in action. Training is now being held three times per week with a target to recruit 15 national-level players. Further demonstration events are planned in hockey clubs and schools throughout the country, as well as during KHL league games.
“To date, we have gathered a dozen people and now I invite all interested persons with disabilities to join us in training in Zagreb, and next year we could play the first match,” Kocijan said.
Kovacic said “The Croatian Paralympic Committee has a vision and a mission that as many people with disabilities participate in various sports activities, so we both decided to take this opportunity to promote hockey, as in Paralympic sports and the Winter Paralympic Games it is definitely one of the most watched and the most popular sports.”
IPC Ice Sledge Hockey has a partnership with Worldwide Paralympic Partner Ottobock to develop the sport of ice sledge hockey through the Equipment Loaner Programme, which provides nations with Arctic Flash sledges for either six-month or one-year terms.
Ottobock and IPC Ice Sledge Hockey have provided sledges and sticks to interested National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) or federations to further grow the sports at the grassroots level in their respective countries.