Twenty Dubliners will jet out to Barcelona next week to take part in the European ParaHockey ID championships as the version of the sport continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Players from Three Rock Rovers, Railway Union and Monkstown will form part of the squad to take part in the variation of the sport for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Three Rock introduced the sport in 2016 for the first time, leading into the 2017 European championships in 2017 in Amsterdam.
They were quickly followed by the other two clubs, playing their first blitzes in close alignment with the EY Hockey League at the three Dublin venues.
More recently, Loreto in Beaufort started up their own section and a first club in Ulster has recently completed an introductory series of sessions at Lisnagarvey in Co Down.
And the group got a further boost with news that Off The Ball – the sports media company – has teamed up with Irish ParaHockey ID as its new sponsor.
This partnership will see the Irish ParaHockey ID team wearing Off The Ball sponsored shirts at the next two European ParaHockey ID events. The first of these will take place later this month in Barcelona from June 22 to 24.
The partnership will run through until the next Euro ParaHockey Championships that will be held in Antwerp, August 2019.
Siobhan Madeley, spokesperson for the Irish ParaHockey ID team, thanked Off The Ball for their support, pointing out the importance of the support.
“We are delighted to have such a perfect partner in Off The Ball. The enthusiasm of the Off The Ball team is incredible.
“ParaHockey ID is a new sport in Ireland. We have three hockey clubs represented in the team travelling to Barcelona in June and we are working hard with our athletes to prepare them for the games against Spain, England, The Netherlands and Germany.
“We have 20 players, a mixed team of men and women, travelling, some have only just started playing hockey in the past year and the level of skill that they have developed has blown us away to be honest.”
Talking more generally about ParaHockey ID, Siobhán said “ParaHockey ID is for people who want to play hockey and have an intellectual disability.
“Mostly the players are starting with us at about 14 and there is no upper age limit. We are working hard to encourage more people with intellectual disabilities to try hockey.
“Having a media partner is vital as showcasing what our players can do rather than what they can’t.
“We are very grateful to Off The Ball for giving our players a platform and a voice which we hope will encourage more people to join the hockey family.”
Commenting on the partnership, managing director of Off The Ball, Ger Gilroy, said: “These athletes are an inspiration and we are delighted to announce our association with them, as they prepare for their upcoming European events and European Championships, next year.
“It’s only right that the Irish ParaHockey ID team receive the exposure they deserve, for their ongoing dedication and passion for the game.
“We are very happy to play our role in supporting their campaign and we wish them every success, over the coming months.”