Britain was the third country in the
world to play Ice Sledge Hockey;
2011 marks the 30 year anniversary of Ice Sledge Hockey in the UK and to mark the anniversary the British Sledge Hockey Association (BSHA) has planned a number of events.
As well as launching new teams, the BSHA plan to send a full squad to February's 2011 European Championships in Solleftea, Sweden, re-introduce a national senior league, host an international club tournament and play a number of international friendlies.
Britain was the third country in the world to play Ice Sledge Hockey after Sweden and Norway and initially the teams comprised Scottish and English Wheelchair Basketball teams trying the new sport at Solihull ice rink.
Ice Sledge Hockey is the version of traditional ice hockey for athletes with a lower limb disability. The size of the rink and goals, the markings on the ice, all the rules and the penalties inflicted on the players when a foul is made are identical to ice hockey.
The main difference is the athletes' technical equipment. They use specially designed sledges fitted with two blades like those of ice skates to propel themselves across the ice and have two playing sticks, which have a double function: they are used to push like a ski-pole in cross-country skiing and to control and shoot the puck.
In 1994 Ice Sledge Hockey was played for the first time in the Paralympic Winter Games with Great Britain narrowly missing out on the Bronze medal. Since then Great Britain have played at the Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano (1998) and Turin (2006), and rose to a world ranking of fifth in 2005.
Ice Sledge Hockey enjoyed a golden period between 2002 and 2006 with a competitive league, club success in Europe and significant growth. However after the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games there was a significant decline in Ice Sledge Hockey in the UK which resulted in only one active club and a team of only ten players competing in the World Championships in 2009.
Since then, the sport has transformed itself from a minority Paralympic Winter Sport played on an ad-hoc basis into a vibrant, robust inclusive sport with clear objectives and real growth.
REHACARE.de; Source: International Paralympic Committee (IPC)