After the Vancouver Paralympics we at mashsport HQ were talking about the obviously popular sport of Sledge Hockey. I must admit that until the Vancouver event, much to my acute embarrassment, I’d never even heard of it!
So what’s it all about then eh?
Well… Ice hockey played on sledges pretty much covers the basics. Invented in 1960, Sledge Hockey is a full contact sport just as fast, furious and exciting as Ice Hockey with all the same rules. Only the equipment and I guess the fact that it’s fully inclusive really distinguishes Sledge Hockey as a separate sport.
Sadly, for all sorts of reasons ie lack of funding and limited ice time, the GB team failed to qualify for this year’s Winter Paralympics. Matt Lloyd, Paralympian and Chairman of the British Sledge Hockey Association, assures me however that interest in Sledge Hockey is very much on the increase and that the sport is developing fast within the UK with many new clubs being established nationwide.
I asked Matt what GB’s chances are for qualifying for the Sochi Winter Paralympics in 2014.
“Good!” he said “Sochi 2014 presents a great opportunity for GB Sledge Hockey team to demonstrate that they really are great athletes and I’m sure we will achieve medal success.”
Matt (hereafter known as Sir Matt!) added “In the past we have looked to others to show us the way but now we are looking to lead and set new standards in terms of both athlete support and athlete performance.”
BTW, we are all terribly pleased that he and his fellow Team GB and Club Sledgers are using mashsport to share their (very busy) sporting world with coaches, teams & friends...mashsport are proud to play our part as they strive for Gold.
Ice cool. On all fronts!
Anyway… Sir Matt is also the brains behind ‘Inline Sledge Hockey’ the dry land equivalent of the sport (though with slightly differing rules) which can be played in any gym or sports hall. A clever initiative which is currently helping to raise the profile of Sledge Hockey across the UK. The BSHA ambassadors who are out and about encouraging both able bodied and disabled youngsters to try the sledges, both off and on the ice, are being met with great enthusiasm.
The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) awarded two grants last year to Sledge Hockey as a part of their ‘Rebuilding Lives through Sport’ scheme. One was used to purchase ten Inline ‘off-ice sledges’ and the other allowed the Grimsby Redwings to set up their club which has lead to a vibrant and enthusiastic team being developed.
I spoke to SIA Executive Director Paul Smith earlier today and asked him about SIA’s involvement with the BSHA.
“Sledge Hockey is a wonderful and fast growing sport that we are very pleased to be associated with” he enthused “It is an honour to be able to support a sport that is truly fully inclusive”
Definitely mashsport hats off for the SIA and thumbs up for Sledge Hockey!