This week the EHF Youth Panel travelled to Royal Victory Hockey Club in Edegem, Belgium to help co-ordinate the ParaHockey competition at the ABN AMRO Integration Tournament. Jamie Hooper, Secretary of the EHF Youth Panel, sent us a report on all the action from this weekend! The EHF would like to particularly thank the Youth Panel members for all their hard work and their continuing commitment to hockey for all.
The aim of the tournament was to continue the ParaHockey legacy from the Trifinance EuroHockey Championships in Boom, combining a top hockey friendly competition and a ParaHockey friendly competition to help give ParaHockey more exposure.
Four top hockey men’s teams competed against each other: the Dutch champions Oranje-Zwart, the Belgian champions Waterloo Ducks, as well as KHC Dragons and Braxgata who also play in the top league in Belgium.
Four teams also took part in the ParaHockey competition with the host club Victory, a Dutch team from Hudito, a German team from ETB Schwarz-Weiss and the World Champion team from L’Archetto, Italy.
As well as the two integration tournaments, there were also some friendly games between other clubs in the region; Royal Victory men’s 1st team played two games against Antwerp HC (which EHF Youth Panel member Jamie Hooper was asked to umpire!), and they also played Push HC from just across the border in Breda, Holland. And the Royal Victory women’s 1st team played against local rivals Braxgata.
The teams arrived on Friday and the ParaHockey and top hockey games began straight away!
On Saturday both competitions continued, but something very special happened; the ParaHockey teams played again but this time with some of the top hockey men playing in their teams with them – true ‘integration’ in action! The EHF Youth Panel made use of a Go-Pro camera to get some great film from the ParaHockey games, so watch out for the video soon!
The Youth Panel also managed to squeeze in an important meeting on Saturday working on their plans for the next two years, so huge thanks must go to EHF Education and Development Manager Norman Hughes and EHF Development Projects Committee Chair Gianni Rossi for attending. The Youth Panel also welcomed their brand new member, Leen Ryckx from Belgium.
On Sunday the final games took place, but before the ParaHockey games a minutes silence was held for Italian Hockey Federation Board Member Mario Steffenel who sadly passed away, and the Italian team work black arm bands in commemoration.
The great news is that the Integration Tournament has secured sponsorship from ABN-AMRO bank and will take place every year rotating between Royal Victory, Braxgata and Waterloo Ducks Hockey Club. Next year the tournament will be held at Braxgata.
EHF Youth Panel secretary Jamie Hooper commented “It is absolutely amazing to be back here in Belgium again supporting a nation that is driving ParaHockey activity at the moment. The idea behind this tournament is incredible and it is so good to see the top hockey players truly integrated playing with the ParaHockey teams. The crowds of people here and Belgian TV filming the games shows that ParaHockey is starting to get the exposure that it deserves and we are all so grateful to be a part of it.”
The EHF Youth Panel would like to say a huge thank you to Royal Victory Hockey Club for hosting them for the tournament, and a very special thank you to Bernadette Monheim for all of her hard work co-ordinating with the youth panel, and we hope to see you all next year again in Braxgata!
Source and Photographs: EHF/Jamie Hooper