25th June 2018: Our Motivation Monday story comes to you from Barcelona, Spain. As the sun set on the Pau Negre Stadium on Montjuic, Barcelona, 120 ParaHockey ID athletes packed up their bags and their memories from an incredible event.
On Friday 22nd June the games started with 3 groups, beginner, intermediate and elite. The games were fought in a competitive and friendly way. The elite group demonstrating the fantastic capabilities of these athletes.
The end of the day was celebrated with a pizza party and dancing (which was not obligatory!) but there weren’t too many on their seats by the time the buses arrived to take the players to their lodgings and get some rest before Olympic Day!
At the party the EHF was delighted to announce that Helen Richardson Walsh and Juan Andres de Koning have taken on the role of EHF ParaHockey Ambassadors leading up to the Euro ParaHockey Championships in Antwerp. Read here their reaction to being awarded this honour here .
Day 2 saw the games going on at the magnificent Pau Negre stadium. A special day for sport as we celebrated Olympic Day! The players were joined by Spanish captain Miquel Delás, Olympians Norman Hughes (bronze) and Helen Richardson Walsh (bronze and gold).
The spirit of the Olympics was alive and well in the stadium as the players held the Olympic flag and then celebrated with more matches! A tour of the Nou Camp stadium, arranged by the hosts, FC Barcelona was a treat for the visiting players.
The final day saw more and more how the players, especially in the beginners group, had learned all about tournament hockey and played their hearts out. The elite grew was incredibly competitive with the Spanish National team taking the title.
The closing ceremony honoured the teams and the fun that had been had by all of the players, their coaches and families, with the young Irish team picking up the Fair play award along with their playing trophy.
EHF Development and Education Manager, Tom Pedersen Smith said “We are very grateful to FC Barcelona for hosting this event. It is very difficult to put into words how to describe ParaHockey events. You really have to live them!”
He added “The joy that can come from a single goal, a win, a shot, a save; brings us back to why we love the sport of hockey. Yes of course there is competition and the elite and intermediate groups keep growing from strength to strength, which is a real joy to watch! But there is and will always be something incredibly special about watching the beginner games, where players test themselves and learn to play as a team. The joy and the fun that is had by the players, their coaches and supporters is something that I have never experienced before.
Speaking about the announcement of the EHF’s ParaHockey players he said “To now have our European ParaHockey Ambassadors, Helen and Juan in place is a huge step for hockey to ensure that we can grow the sport. There is huge potential here, we still only have a handful of our member associations playing ParaHockey, however promoting the importance of getting kids and adults with intellectual disabilities involved in hockey is a job that we know both Helen and Juan will relish and be brilliant at!”
He concluded “We are now planning for the Euro ParaHockey Championships in Antwerp along with working with the Special Olympics. It is a great time for inclusivity in hockey and I’m very proud of that.”
If you want to know more about ParaHockey ID – click here