“We are rolling out a whole new development programme focusing on helping teams to recruit more players and attract more attention to the sport.”
IPC Ice Sledge Hockey has announced that Novi Sad, Serbia, will host the first IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships C-Pool between 23-25 February, in the latest step towards the ongoing development of the sport.
Teams from Austria, Belgium/Netherlands and Finland are expected to compete in the Championships which will incorporate training and education for athletes and coaches from world-class experts on and off the ice. Belgium’s team will include players from the Netherlands to support the long-term growth of sledge hockey in both countries.
As well as receiving education and training, the gold medallist from the C-Pool Worlds will be promoted to the B-Pool for 2017, giving them a chance to qualify for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The top three finishers from the B-Pool will then compete at the Qualification Tournament for the next Paralympic Winter Games that same year.
Jessica Korber, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Manager, said: “This competition will not only see a C-Pool world champion crowned and promoted for next season but is also a great chance for players and coaches to learn and develop their skills.
“We are rolling out a whole new development programme focusing on helping teams to recruit more players and attract more attention to the sport. We want to achieve a greater competitive balance by increasing the number of countries to expand its worldwide reach and participation.
“This newly created C-Pool tournament provides the opportunity for both emerging and newly practicing countries to compete at on the same level, thereby contributing to the growth and development of IPC Ice Sledge Hockey.
“I would like to thank the Serbian Paralympic Committee for their support in organising the Championships, and PyeongChang 2018 for their help in growing the sport. We are delighted to return to Novi Sad after a successful B-Pool Worlds in 2012.”
Zoran Micoovic, President of the Serbian National Paralympic Committee, who are organising the World Championships locally, said: "We are pleased and honoured to be part of the road to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games as a host of IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Championships C-Pool.
“Thanks to PyeongChang 2018 and the Agitos Foundation we have a great opportunity to organise this event that will be followed with workshop sessions.”
The competition is being held in collaboration with the organisers of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and Agitos Foundation, as a component of the recently announced Actualising the Dream project.
Actualising the Dream features a series of workshops and grants for equipment to improve winter sport around the world as part of the legacy of the next Paralympic Winter Games.
In addition to its involvement with Actualising the Dream, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey recently launched a series of training camps for national teams as part of its Development Outreach Programme, which is also supported by the Agitos Foundation.
Here players and coaches in applicant countries have access to on and off ice training in all aspects of ice sledge hockey. The first camp took place in Slovakia in January led by world-famous Canadian coach George Kingston.