Israel has become the latest country to experience the excitement of Para ice hockey, as coaches and athletes from some of Europe’s best teams led a training camp in Tel Aviv.
Eight people took part in the camp from 6-7 December, which was organised by World Para Ice Hockey, alongside the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Ice Hockey Federation. The participants were taught the basics of the sport before letting them try it on the ice.
“The camp and the start of the Para hockey project [in Israel] are going hand in hand,” said Boris Chait, President of the Israel Ice Hockey Federation. “There're a lot of young and middle age people who were injured during the wars and other events in Israel. They're very athletic and the sport will fit them and they'll fit the sport.”
Most of the participants were from Tel Aviv. Some had already engaged in other Para sports but were giving Para ice hockey a try for the first time. They practiced the basic skills of the sport such as skating, stopping and turning, stick handling and shooting the puck. They learned about the different equipment and how to put them on; classification in the sport; and received valuable advice and tips from the Czech Republic’s national coach Jiri Briza and Slovakia team manager Miroslav Drab.
German national player Christian Jaster shared his athlete experiences on and off the ice, demonstrating skill and technique while in the sledge but also giving valuable advice from athlete perspective during classroom sessions.
Briza and Drab also passed on knowledge to two potential Israeli Para ice hockey coaches.
Drab showed a video on how he developed Para ice hockey in Slovakia, their ties with the Czech Republic in their first years, and eventually grew to form their own national team.
With a grant provided by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Para Ice Hockey provided protective gear for the participants to wear, while the sledges and sticks were organized by the Israel Ice Hockey Federation.
“It was very encouraging and inspiring to see all the participants have fun on the ice while trying a new sport,” said Barbora Kohoutova, Interim World Para Ice Hockey Manager. “Para ice hockey is not an easy sport to pick up. You have to learn how to move and balance on the sledges, while controlling a puck with sticks, as well as the rules of the sport. But all the participants were eager to try it out and picked it up really quickly.
“It was also very encouraging to have Para ice hockey experts from the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia help out in the sport’s development in Israel, where Para ice hockey is just in its early stages.
“I also want to thank the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in providing the funds to help us organise the training camp in Israel.”
Photos and videos from the Para ice hockey training camp can be found on World Para Ice Hockey’s Facebook page.