First Taste of Sledge in Milton Keynes

Some of the attendees from the first MK sledge hockey taster session

Some of the attendees and “assistant coaches” from the first MK sledge hockey taster session

The first of the three sledge hockey taster sessions was held on Wednesday this week at Planet Ice Milton Keynes.  With GB Head Coach Andrew Linton and several of the GB players on hand to help out, there were quite a few new faces who came to give it a try…along with one or two familiar ones!

Adam Carr and Lewis Christie from the MK Lightnings Ice Hockey Team and a couple of players from the MK Falcons Women’s Ice Hockey Team came along and strapped themselves into a sledge for the first time and ended up finding it a lot harder than they expected!Firefox_Screenshot_2014-11-20T17-11-46.865Z

The attendees first learned how to get the sledges moving on the ice and how to get themselves back up when the sledge tipped over!  Then they moved onto puck handling and shooting, with GB’s Tyler, Jon and Darren helping them all the way.

Coach Linton was pleased with the turnout on the night and tweeted about how much potential he saw in those who attended.

The next taster session is on Wednesday 26th November 9pm-10pm, with the third one at the same time on Wednesday 3rd December.  If you want to pre-book a place on one of the remaining sessions, you can do so at the Planet Ice Milton Keynes website.

Sledge Hockey Taster Sessions in Milton Keynes

Firefox_Screenshot_2014-11-13T17-41-17.041ZWith the grand re-opening of their Milton Keynes ice rink, Planet Ice have set up a series of sledge hockey taster sessions, offering the opportunity for people to come and try the paralympic sport for the first time.

Sledge hockey is a variation of ice hockey in which players are seated in a metal sledge with blades on the base, propelling themselves using twin hockey sticks, shooting pucks as they go.  Designed specifically for people with lower body impairments who are unable to play standing ice hockey, the sport is fast, full-contact and extremely fun to play and watch.

The sessions are being run by GB Sledge Hockey Head Coach Andrew Linton, who will be assisted on the ice by a number of players, including current GB Captain Ian Warner as well as GB players Darren Brown, Jon Le Galloudec and Tyler Christopher.  Jon and Tyler are both military personnel who were injured while serving abroad and became involved with sledge hockey as a form of rehabilitation.

Coach Linton is excited about the sessions: “This is a fantastic chance to bring sledge hockey to people who may not have been able to try it previously. The newly refurbished rink is a perfect place to hold these sessions and I’m looking forward to seeing the potential talent that arises from them.”

The sessions are completely free, and are open to anyone – male or female, disabled or able-bodied – over the age of 14. All equipment will be provided by the British Sledge Hockey Association and Planet Ice, including sledges. If you would like to give sledge hockey a try, the sessions will be held at Planet Ice Milton Keynes at the following times:

  • Wednesday 19th November 9pm-10pm
  • Wednesday 26th November 9pm-10pm
  • Wednesday 3rd December 9pm-10pm

You can pre-book your place on one of the sessions at the Planet Ice Milton Keynes Website.

More information on sledge hockey can be found at www.sledgehockey.co.uk
More information on Planet Ice can be found at www.planet-ice.co.uk

Hull Daily Mail Sporting Champion

On Thursday 6th November, the Hull Daily Mail Sporting Champions Awards took place, with sporting fans from across the city coming together to celebrate some of the best, most hard-working and most deserving athletes around.

Matt Clarkson with the Kingston Kestrels

Matt Clarkson with the Kingston Kestrels

As announced a couple of weeks ago, one of the three finalists for the Disabled Athlete of the Year was our own Matt Clarkson, who was competing against two players from the East Riding Electric Eels, a powerchair football team.

While we obviously agree that Kizzy Blue Wade and Kai Gill from the Eels are fantastic athletes, everyone involved with sledge hockey was rooting for Matt to win. The commitment and dedication he has shown to both the Kingston Kestrels and to the GB team made him our firm favourite. Sure enough, towards the end of the evening, it was Matt standing up on the stage receiving the award.

Disabled Athlete of the Year

Disabled Athlete of the Year

But no matter how proud everyone from the BSHA and the Kestrels were, Matt was even more pleased with the result.

It’s an honour to have been awarded Disabled Athlete of the Year award from the Hull Daily Mail, sponsored by Spire Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital. Not only is great to be recognised for my personal sporting achievements but also to have sledge hockey recognised at a Hull and East Yorkshire wide event.

We’re sure that the new trophy will take pride of place with Matt, and will hopefully soon be accompanied by a medal from the IPC World Championships!

GB Heading to Sweden

1392007_603131566420871_548905630_nWith the recent announcement that Sweden will be the host for the 2015 World Championships Pool B in March, GB players and staff are ramping up the training to ensure that they are in the best possible shape to come away with a medal.

GB will be competing against four other teams, South Korea, Slovakia, Poland and Sweden, all of whom will be battling for not only a gold medal, but the chance to be promoted to the coveted Pool A for the next round of World Championships in 2017.

A win in March will put the GB team in a fantastic position in the run up to the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.  After the disappointment of not qualifying for Sochi, there is no doubt that the team will be fighting hard every step of the way.

Head Coach for the team, Andrew Linton, has no doubt that the team will be doing everything they can to win.

Everyone involved with the GB team always looks forward to the World Championships, and they’re a major part of our annual calendar. The players train hard all season for this chance and they all want to be able to make up for a disappointing result in [the Paralympic Qualifiers in] Italy.

The GB squad will be training regularly over the next few months and the final lineup for the team will be confirmed closer to the time, but for now, it’s all hands on deck.

Getting to Ostersund, Sweden won’t be possible though without some help.  As with many winter sports, there is a severe lack of funding available. While the BSHA has various fundraising activities in the pipeline, the team is also looking for some corporate sponsors.

If you’d like your company to support the team, and you want to know that you’re helping some of our best athletes to realise their dreams of representing their country, please get in touch with us, either by email at communications@sledgehockey.co.uk or through the form on the contact page.  There are a number of different sponsorship opportunities available and we’re sure we can come up with something to benefit both your company and the GB team.

New Captain for the Kestrels

Matt Woollias [Photo Courtesy of Jake Oakley]

Over in Hull, the Kingston Kestrels have had a few weeks away from training to refocus themselves and get prepared for next season.  Along with an enhanced commitment to recruitment, they have also been making some changes to the team itself.

For the past few years, Ian Warner, one of the most experienced sledge hockey players in the country, has worn the C on his jersey.  But now he’s decided it’s time to hand the role over to someone else – 25 year old Matt Woollias.

Matt is one of the newer players in the league, having come into sledge hockey after a cancer diagnosis led to his leg being amputated.  An avid footballer, he wasn’t prepared to give up sports entirely, and soon discovered that the ice held as much excitement for him as a football pitch did.

Now four and half years clear of cancer, with international experience under his belt and a strong determination to succeed, he is thrilled to be offered the captaincy for the team he loves.

It’s a great honour to be named captain after such a short time in the sport. I am relishing the challenge and hope to help the team to silverware next season. It will be difficult to follow in the footsteps of Ian who has been a fantastic captain for the club over the years.

So while the roster of the Kestrels will look a little different next season, the team will still have the same aspirations they’ve always had – play hard, win silver.

If you’d like to check out the Kestrels – or any of the other teams – and give sledge hockey a try yourself, check out their team page here on the website, or visit them directly on Facebook or Twitter.

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