11th April 2023, Maribor – Over the past weekend the Women’s Hockey Partnership for Progress project has seen its first edition of the Ice Hockey Festival and Academy, an event that has drawn to the city of Maribor girl hockey teams from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.
Around one hundred and fifty players, coaches and other team staff have spent three days improving their on the ice skills as well as expanding their theoretical knowledge on various aspects of the sport. The latter was done through the workshops conducted by women hockey experts from Europe and USA.
Katja Pasanen (FIN), who is a mental coach in different sports, discussed with the players issues related to the mental strength and finding the proper motivation to achieve their goals in ice hockey and in life. Since the event was a combination of workshops and hockey matches the players had the chance to immediately test discussed topics in real game situations and vice versa. Alexia Cheyroux (FRA), a French Leagues’ and IIHF’s referee, pointed out the importance of having good communication between the coaching staff and game officials, while Heather Mannix (USA), Florence Schelling (SUI) and Erika Holst (SWE) concentrated on the coaching staff. As each of the five teams played a match with other teams the three joined their benches to observe the dynamics within the team during the most intense part of ice hockey – the game itself. In the post-game analysis they were then able to provide feedback on how to adjust handling the situations which happen either on the ice or at the bench.
With the main focus being on learning the final scores were of less importance. However, this has not affected girls’ resolve with a stick and a puck; thus we have been able to see some very interesting games.
In addition to workshops and matches one of the highlights was definitely the Saturday Night Disco on the Ice, a social event that once again proved that ice hockey brings people together.
In light of the IIHF’s recent #InspireThe Next campaign the WHPP also welcomed young girls from Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are only getting to know themselves with the sport ice hockey. The youngsters were excited to join their senior colleagues for a joint session on the ice where they could learn new skills and seek advice on how to become better ice hockey players.
The whole event provided the WHPP Team with valuable feedback on the specific needs by the participating national ice hockey federations in order for the future activities to be even more tailor-made to beneficiaries of this EU Erasmus Plus funded project.
The 2024 WHPP Ice Hockey Festival and Academy will be held in Villach (Austria).