ParaHockey is taking its first steps in Portugal. The official launch of this hockey variant took place in January, after a partnership Portuguese Hockey made with ANDDI, an important Association of Sports for Intellectual Disability in Portugal.
This was a truly successful launch of the project and we are now aiming to grow the number of athletes and institutions that are practicing the sport of hockey by defining a strategy that promotes a regular competition between the teams and fostering interest in partners that have the capability to support and deliver more media attention around it.
The Portuguese ParaHockey Project officially began at the end of May 2013 with the collaboration and support of the EHF. EHF Developement and Education Manager, Norman Hughes, attended the very first event. It involved several institutions such as the Federação Portuguesa de Desporto para a Deficiencia (FPDD), the Helen Keller Institute, Casa Pia Lisboa and AFID, an institution that works for the inclusion of disabled people. More than 400 people with different disabilities (such as impaired vision, deafness and intellectual disabilities) had the opportunity to experience hockey for the very first time.
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In January 2014, ParaHockey had its official debut to the public with a sign language workshop and the first national match between deaf hockey athletes only. It took place during the final stages of the Portuguese National competitions.
Working hard and holding several meetings and workshops between February – June 2014, the Portuguese Hockey Federation has managed to involve in its ParaHockey activities more than 260 atheletes from 24 different institutions. Work continues, all with the aim of preparing a team to participate in the next European ParaHockey Championships, which will take place alongside the EuroHockey Championships in London 2015.
The European Hockey Federation is incredibly proud of the work Portuguese Hockey has been doing to extend the reach of hockey to everyone, and will continue to support and encourage all nations with their ParaHockey programs.
For more information on how your National Association can start their own ParaHockey program, please contact Norman Hughes (email@example.com)