Croatia latest nation to join ice sledge hockey thanks to Ottobock Equipment Loaner Programme

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April 3, 2014 (ISN) – The Croatian National Paralympic Committee has become the latest organisation to join IPC Ice Sledge Hockey’s Ottobock Equipment Loaner Programme and will be receiving 12 sledges over the next year to help initiate the development of ice sledge hockey in Croatia.

IPC Ice Sledge Hockey has a two-year partnership with Worldwide Paralympic Partner Ottobock to develop the sport of ice sledge hockey through this programme, which provides nations with sledges for either six-month or one-year terms.

Ottobock and the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey are providing sledges and sticks to interested National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) or hockey federations to further grow the sports at the grassroots level in their respective countries.

Keith Blase, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Sport Technical Committee Chairperson, said: “IPC Ice Sledge Hockey have been working to attract new teams and countries to the sport, and Ottobock has provided us with the valuable resources to help countries such as Croatia to start up their programme from scratch.”

Upon receiving the newly produced sledges, NPC Croatia have expressed interest in presenting and demonstrating the sport in hockey clubs and schools throughout the country, as well as potentially during KHL league games.

Marko Kocijan, who will be the head coach for Croatia’s newly created ice sledge hockey programme, said: “We have several interested athletes who wish to participate in the sport. Without the Loaner Programme it would be almost impossible for us to launch ice sledge hockey.

“Sledges are essential equipment that in this early phase of promoting the sport we would not be able to purchase on our own for our athletes. We are grateful to IPC Ice Sledge Hockey and Ottobock for providing the sledges, and we look forward to becoming part of the ice sledge hockey family.”

The Ottobock Equipment Loaner Programme also aims to increase the number of athletes and rehabilitation centres practicing the sport, as well as to increase the number of people with an impairment who regularly practice the sport.

IPC Ice Sledge Hockey selects the NPCs or organisations who apply for participation in the programme and co-ordinates the distribution of equipment, which is supplied and maintained by Ottobock.

The initiative will also influence emerging ice sledge hockey countries to host public events to create further awareness for the sport.

For more information on IPC Ice Sledge Hockey’s Ottobock Equipment Loaner Programme, please visit http://www.paralympic.org/ice-sledge-hockey/development.

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