Early this morning, 9 nations composed of Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and England entered Royal Victory Club's pitch for the 4th edition of the Cronos Euro ParaHockey Championship.
Opened by the EHF President, Marijke Fleuren, Marijke spoke to the athletes reminding them to "enjoy the Championships, the friendship and remember to include all your teammates during the games, when you can make that pass to your team-mate, do it!" She thanked sincerely Royal Victory HC, Cronos, the EHF Officials and the EHF Youth Panel for their "commitment to making this a wonderful ParaHockey event for the players, the coaches and the parents."
Norman Hughes, FIH ParaHockey (ID) Sports Director about the launch of this edition: "It's fabulous, it's growing every time and it gets bigger." Indeed, for the first time, this European event found a title sponsor, Cronos.
"To us, supporting the social integration of these sportsmen and women is a central issue," says Dirk Deroost, Cronos CEO. "We are more than proud to associate our name with such a prestigious tournament of this stature."
He also added: "You can see the standard improving in all the different pool; we have 3 pools, the Challenge, the Trophy the middle pool and the elite the Championship pool. And you can see the players improving every time. (...) The passion from the coaches and the players to improve themselves and to prepare more thoroughly (is the secret ingredient for this recipe), we become more and more professional as a family."
The tournament started with a division game to assess which pool suits teams best after pools have got balanced, teams showed determination and motivation playing against other nations. It is also the opportunity for players to make friends off the pitch.
Matthew Burke, Irish player participating for the 3rd time in the Euro ParaHockey is calling himself a veteran said: "we've got better over the years and we get more clubs and that's what we want isn't it? (...) I like going to the hostel, to the club and make new friends, meeting people".
Although organisation and hockey quality has improved over these past years, Matthew added: "It would be good if it's a bit bigger maybe"
The show continues tomorrow at Royal Victory.