The international indoor hockey winter begins on Friday with the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship III taking place in Cyprus in the first of December’s rescheduled competitions from early in 2022.
It will be played in Athienou, bringing a European competition to the country for the second time following 2018 hosting of the same level of event in Nicosia.
They will play a six-team round-robin event, beginning on Friday morning, with Denmark (world ranking: 25), Italy (WR: 33), Ireland (WR: 47), Cyprus (WR: 48), Greece (WR: 49) and Serbia (unranked) taking part.
The highest ranked Denmark is led by experienced players as Jesper Jonassen and Lasse Steinmetz who have played international for many years and were part of the Danish team playing in the A-division in Antwerp in 2018.
Since 2018, the team is rebuilding and, this year, with many new young players seeking international experience, several players will play in the Under-21 championships in January as well. The team is headed by Peter Kalfstermann and Jonas Graversen
Italy draw much of their panel from leading indoor clubs like HC Bra, HP Valchisone and HC Bondeno along with leaders from the outdoor side – Francois Sior (KHC Leuven) and Mattia Amorosini (SCHC).
Simone Pagliara will play his second European competition of the season having played in the Euro Hockey League with Rotweiss Wettingen.
Loris Perelli coaches the side and brings a wealth of experience. He played internationally both indoors and outdoors and represented Italy at the 2007 Indoor World Cup in Vienna as well as winning many national titles with HC Bra.
Ireland only returned to international indoor hockey in 2020 after a break dating back to the 1980s. They finished in third place in the EuroHockey Championship III
“The team are really excited for this tournament and challenge,” said coach Brinsley Powell. “The interest in indoor continues to grow and as such we are starting to build a wider depth of players, which hopefully leads to a higher level and competitions for places in the team.”
The clash with outdoor Irish commitments has meant brothers Michael and Callum Robson, Neal Glassey and Jeremy Duncan were not able to commit to the training series while Rory Patterson misses out through injury.
It opens the door for Under-21 indoor captain Ben O’Grady to make his senior debut along with Richard Couse, James Walker and ex-South Africa outdoor international Jody Hosking. Olympian John Jackson captains the side.
Serbia will make their debut in the competition and will be playing their first European Championship of any description since 2007’s outdoor fourth tier in Slovenia.
Their return has been helped along by the support of a EuroHockey Solidarity Grant from May 2022 to contribute to the costs of kit, penalty corner equipment and accommodation.
They travelled to Zagreb to play an outdoor tournament in the summer and they warmed up for this event with a three-nations competition in Budapest a couple of weeks ago.
Serbia are captained by the well-travelled Michael Dorgan who played in France and England prior to his role as Head of Elite Development in Serbia and has also played in Spain of late. When making his debut this summer, he became a dual international having played cricket for the country in 2021.
“We have a very young squad, including some 15-17 year olds,” he said of the panel “The average age of our squad is under 22 so we’re looking to develop for the future.”
They will look to their dangerous forwards, Denis Katancic and Adam Losonci, who are already picking up goals in indoor and outdoor hockey.
Hosts Cyprus are another side making their way in the international indoor following their European Championship debut in 2018, a sixth place finish.
Their side features six players from that vintage including Nicolas Yiakoumi who is based in Dublin and will face his Corinthian club mate David Howard. He is among a number of players spread across the continent: captain Tunc Ilgin, captain plays for Blackheath & Elthamians; James Nicandrou is with St Albans and goalkeeper Savvas Hadjigeorgiou is in the Southgate first team in England.
Antonis Efthymiou lines out for Hilversum and player-coach Thomas Barton is involved with Scottish club Inverleith.
Greece will play in their third men’s European indoor campaign following Alanya, Turkey in 2010 and Nicosia in 2018. From that latter tournament, Panagiotis Tsoukalis, Anastasios Varsamidis, Periklis Karras and Stavros Sideridis are back once again to bring their experience to the table.
** This event will not be live streamed; to follow the event in real time, updates are available via: https://tms.fih.ch/competitions/1463
** The women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship III begins in Bratislava on Friday; preview to follow on Friday