Starting on 18 June, for the very first time in the history of the Special Olympics, Hockey for those with Intellectual Disabilities, known as Hockey ID, will be played at the Special Olympics World Games 2023 in Berlin as a demonstration sport.
The SO World Games which begin tomorrow, 17 June, and run till 25 June, will feature over 7,000 athletes across 26 summer sports from 190 delegations. Hockey ID was chosen as a demonstration sport as one of the two sports from a pool of ten sports, with a key factor that sealed the deal for Hockey ID’s inclusion being the willingness of the FIH, the EHF, and other national hockey associations to work in partnership with the Special Olympics.
The Hockey ID matches will run from 18 June to 24 June and feature 13 mixed-gender teams representing 4 continental hockey federations. Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Pakistan, Paraguay, and Spain will all have squads of 10 players present at the games, with hosts Germany being represented by two teams.
The matches will be played in a 6-a-side format, on half-sized hockey pitches with each game consisting of two halves of 15 minutes. Each team will field 6 players at one time with 4 additional players available to be substituted in.
Belgium, Spain, Great Britain, Egypt, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Germany (team 1) have been placed in Pool A, while Paraguay, Czech Republic, France, Chile, Bulgaria, and Germany (team 2) have been placed in Pool B. The preliminary rounds will be played from 18 to 22 June, followed by knockout rounds on 22 and 23 June. The finals and the award ceremony are scheduled for 24 June.
Norman Hughes, who is the FIH Hockey ID Project Lead and the driving force behind Hockey ID’s inclusion in the games, speaking before the games said: “To have 13 teams representing 4 continents in the very first edition of Hockey ID being played at the Special Olympics, is a very proud moment for our sport and shows the global interest in promoting inclusiveness. Our aim is to use the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 as a tool to inspire more nations to develop and grow Hockey ID.”
We are particularly delighted that as a result of the Erasmus+ EU project “Love is All” which we are involved in, Bulgaria is fielding its first-ever HockeyID team – what a start for these athletes!!!!