The third year of the world para hockey tournament International Para Hockey Cup 2023 has started. The Ostravar Arena hosts the three best teams of today: the USA, Canada and the Czech Republic, as well as the IPH team, i.e. a selection of players from Italy and Germany.
The preparation for the IPH CUP 2023 already brought several historical moments. For the first time ever, the biggest para hockey rivals from Canada and the USA met on the same ice for a joint practice. “We enjoyed this training a lot, both the players and the entire implementation team. I sincerely hope that we have started a new tradition of joint practices or camps here, which we would definitely like to continue in the future,” said Marshall Starkmen, manager of the para hockey team Canada, at the press conference before the start of the tournament. At the same time, the Canadians continue the legacy of the Norwegian national team, which also has a woman in the national team. The 21-year-old Raphaëlle Tousignant will appear in the Maple Leafs jersey at the IPH CUP 2023 tournament. “It looks like we’re rivals, but off the ice we’re truly friends. We are always very happy to come back to Ostrava, where there is a great environment for para hockey,” added Dan Brennan, manager of the US para hockey team. “It’s not my first time in Ostrava, but I’ll be standing on the bench for the first time as a coach of the united IPH team. It is an amazing opportunity for both Italian and German players, who will face the best team on the planet in the opening match, and we are very grateful to the tournament organizers for this opportunity,” commented the Italian coach Mirko Bianchi on the involvement of the IPH team.
The IPH CUP takes place right at the beginning of the new season. For most teams, this is a great opportunity mainly to try out new players and finalize the national team roster. “The tournament will test how the players are doing physically, and the opportunity to play again with the teams of Canada and the USA is the best chance for us to work on ourselves,” commented Jakub Novotný, coach of the Czech para hockey national team, about the connection of all teams.
The Moravian-Silesian Region and Ostrava are the centre of sports
Thanks to a tradition that began in 2009, when the first World Championship in para hockey was held in Ostrava, para hockey has settled in the heart of the Moravian-Silesian region. “I hope that not only the players, but also the fans will enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament, but also the beauty of our entire region. We know that the Czech national team recently won bronze medals at the World Championships in Canada, and now they could add gold to it directly from Ostrava as well,” said Jan Krkoška, governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region. “Probably no one expected a few years ago that para hockey would be at home in Ostrava and would advertise the city worldwide. But we are very happy for this connection and for the fact that para hockey is returning to us in the form of these prestigious world tournaments, which the city of Ostrava wants to continue to support,” added Jan Dohnal, mayor of the Statutory City of Ostrava. “Thanks to the support of the Moravian-Silesian Region, Ostrava, as well as the National Sports Agency and other partners, Ostrava really becomes a focal point on the global para sport map every year. We can thus organize not only tournaments such as the IPH CUP, but also development camps for young players,” said Jiří Šindler, chairman of the Czech para hockey team and chairman of the organizing team of the IPH CUP 2023 tournament. “Para hockey repeatedly proves that the sport is at home in the Czech Republic and in Ostrava. I myself really look forward to para hockey matches; it’s a pure sport with incredible energy, which all the fans can certainly feel as well,” added Roman Brandýs, vice-chairman of the National Sports Agency.
The International Para Hockey Cup 2023 started at 15:00 with the game between the USA and the IPH team. You can watch all matches live on ČT sport Plus.
The International Para Hockey Cup 2023 takes place with the support of the National Sports Agency, the Moravian-Silesian Region, the Statutory City of Ostrava and partners Kaufland and Komerční banka.
Text: Zuzana Martinčík Glacová Translation: Adela Katy Dawso Photos: David Handl, Vladimír Pryček