Let the games begin! – The World Championship in Pardubice has just gotten underway!
After some tense ball hockey action in the afternoon session, the ISBHF World Ball Hockey Championship in Pardubice, Czech Republic officially gotten away! Slovaks, demonstrating their experience and quality, beat India 3-1, who, however, showed great passion for the game. In the B Pool, Team Great Britain bravely fought against the French in a thrilling, dramatic match, only decided by a French shorthanded game winning goal with 18 seconds left in the of the third period, which made it a final score to 4-3 for France.
However, the official ceremony had only taken place before the match between the hosts, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, a team becoming increasingly competitive, presenting a threat to each team in the group stage.
The official ceremony started with a short presentation of the history of Czech ball hockey. Interesting disclaimer – both times the Czechs played at home (Litomerice 1998, Pilsen 2009), the colour of their medal was gold. They have also been defeated only once on home soil, losing to Slovakia in the group stage in Litomerice, but the revenge did not take long. The Czech team, having many ice hockey players in their roster, including Jan Caloun, an Olympic gold medalist from Nagano, 1998, beat Slovakia in the final to keep the cup at home.
The mascot of this year’s World Championship is called Bendy and he claimed the stage shortly afterwards, coming to the rink with the official flag with the World Championship.
The 18 countries competing – Armenia, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Lebanon, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, USA – were symbolically introduced by local volunteers carrying flags representing the nations. Vypsana fixa, a Czech rock band, performed the official anthem of the World Championship ‘Nepotrebujem rolbu‘, freely translated as ˇWe Don’t Need a Snow Cat‘, referring to the difference between ball hockey and ice hockey. Vypsana fixa are also about to have a concert in the ‘fanzone’ next to the arena on the 3rd of June, just after the Czech Republic – USA match, so come on down for some rock action if you are in Pardubice!
With the time reaching 6.00 p.m., the teams came onto the rink, and were welcome by a cheering crowd of 3,189 fans, a great attendance creating an electric atmosphere, showing that Pardubice and the Czech Republic simply love ball hockey. This number is however expected to grow as the later stages of the Championship approach! Before the national anthem of the Czech Republic, sang by the Bonifantes choir, Martin Netolicky – the governor of the Pardubice region, Martin Charvát – the Parbubice major, Martin Komárek – the chairman of the Czech Ball Hockey Federation and George Gortsos – the ISBHF president – welcomed the teams, thanked Pardubice and the Czech Republic for making this superb sporting event happen, wished luck to all teams competing and concluded by a clear and concise motto – Let the games begin!