The International Para Hockey Cup will officially start on Saturday, September 24th. The Czechs have already played their first exhibition game against the Americans. Today they played in joint mixed teams led by both the US and Czech coaches. This unique cooperation follows the Czech long-lasting idea of para hockey development not only in our country but throughout the world. And the players are very much enjoying this unusual collaboration.
Czech and American para hockey players are training together for an entire week before the start of the IPH Cup. In addition, both teams played an exhibition game in the RT Torax Arena in front of some amazing fans today. “It’s fantastic to play in Ostrava again, in the arena where our winning streak began in 2009 and continues to this day, so it’s actually thanks to you that we are the best team in the world now. And the young fans who came to see us today created an incredible atmosphere, so we are enjoying that,” said the American team manager Dan Brennan with a smile. “It’s a pleasure to play with them, to train with them to the point where I’m sad that I only got to enjoy this towards the end of my career,” said Zdeněk Krupička, who will bid his active career farewell after the International Para Hockey Cup tournament. Jiří Bříza, the Czech coach, also appeared in a non-traditional role today, wearing a referee’s jersey for the exhibition game. “There was one serious foul play there that he called me out on, but my American teammates said that he has a lot to learn”, Zdeněk Krupička added.
“This is a truly priceless opportunity to try a different training style, to learn from the absolute best. It’s challenging, but we believe that it will move us forward, and we will use it for our actual games in the tournament,” added Jakub Novotný, the coach of the Czech para hockey national team.
Today, three days before the IPH Cup, not only the arena and its surroundings but also the walkways, the prepared fanzone passed the first stress test. “It’s great, my vocal cords are fried from screaming. Para hockey players work hard, I’ve never known how fast they are. I then tried how challenging it is myself in the fanzone, said Anička, who arrived at today’s exhibition from the Dětská Elementary School. The fanzone is open throughout the tournament. Competitions, in-line sledge with goal shooting, special trainers, games, or a photo booth with the popular Samson mascot and a DJ are prepared for the fans. ” We are glad that Ostrava has really become the heart of para hockey and that world para hockey events repeatedly return here,” said Andrea Hoffmannová, deputy mayor of Ostrava. “The involvement of the local schools is amazing and we have to thank the entire organisation team once again.
We are happy that we can support the further development of para hockey, Stanislav Folwarczny, Deputy Governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region, added.
Players from Canada, Norway, Slovakia and Germany are already in the whirl of the International Para Hockey Cup. The last three mentioned will form a joint IPH team at the tournament. “We wanted to give other European teams the opportunity to play with the world’s elite and thus develop para hockey in their respective countries as well, said Irena Šašková, the tournament manager. “We started cooperating with Czech para hockey in 2019, and we are happy to be able to support more and more joint events, thanks to which this sport is constantly evolving,” said Barbora Černá Dvořáková, Liberty Ostrava’s head of communications.
The International Para Hockey Cup will commence with the first game between Team USA and the IPH Team on Saturday, September 24th, at 4:00 p.m. The Czech national team is due to play Canada’s para hockey players on the same day at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the IPH Cup are still on sale.
The IPH Cup takes place with the financial support of the Statutory City of Ostrava and the Moravian-Silesian Region. Thanks to Kaufland, Liberty and other partners.
Text: Zuzana Glacová Photo: Radim Horák