The Great Britain Sledge Hockey team will be heading off to Japan next month to participate in the 2016 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships (B Pool).
The tournament is being held at the Hakucho Oji Ice Rink in Tomakomai, which has a capacity for 3000 spectators, between the 29th November and the 3rd December. Great Britain will face hosts Japan, as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The tournament will feature a round robin stage, before the medal games on the last day of the event. The top 3 teams in the tournament will also participate next year in the qualification tournament for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
The Czech Republic currently sit at the top of the B Pool rankings after their relegation from the A Pool following the 2015 World Championships A Pool in Buffalo, New York, USA. During their seventh-placed game in Buffalo, Czech Republic ousted Japan 5-1 to set-up a thrilling competition for this edition of the Worlds B Pool.
Japan are second in the rankings, leading Slovakia into third, whilst Great Britain is ranked fourth.
With a new board and a new national team Head Coach, the British Sledge Hockey Association and the GB team are in a transition phase as they look to move the sport forward in the UK.
The GB team features players from all of the current teams that make up the British Sledge Hockey League. The league, which is played throughout the summer months will also benefit in 2017 with the addition of a new military team.
Speaking about the upcoming tournament, GB Head Coach Ian Offers commented: “When the tournament was first announced a few people suggested that we shouldn’t attend as they felt we didn’t have a strong enough squad. The implications of this would have been automatic relegation to C Pool as well as sanctions from the IPC.
“We talked about this as a squad and everyone agreed that if we were going to be relegated, we’d rather go out to Japan and go down fighting as opposed to just giving up. I think the fact that we are the underdogs has helped to bond the team together with our common goal.
“Everyone who is attending the tournament as part of the GB team has raised around £2,500 each to pay for the flights, accommodation and entrance fee for the team to participate in the tournament. Many people don’t realise that we are a fully self-funded sport. We’d like to thank the Great Britain Supporters Club (GBSC) for their continued support in once again sponsoring the player shirts for the tournament.”
FULL GB TEAM ROSTER
Bryan Hackworth (Sheffield Steelkings)
Robin Gaze (Peterborough Phantoms)
Matthew Clarkson (Kingston Kestrels)
Darren Brown (Peterborough Phantoms)
Jonathan Le Galloudec (Cardiff Huskies)
Scotty Turner (Peterborough Phantoms)
Gary Farmer (Peterborough Phantoms)
Karl Nicholson (Manchester Phoenix)
Caroline Bonner (Sheffield Steelkings)
Ian Warner (Peterborough Phantoms)
Matt Woollias (Kingston Kestrels)
Matt Coleman (Peterborough Phantoms)
Tyler Christopher (Cardiff Huskies)
Team Manager: Shirley Packwood
Head Coach: Ian Offers