By Michael Pavitt

Croatia's Paralympic Committee held the demonstration event to attract players and showcase the sport for media ©Croatian NPCA demonstration event aimed at encouraging prospective athletes to join a national sledge hockey team has been held by the Croatian National Paralympic Committee (CNPC), after they received 12 sledges from the Ice Sledge Hockey Equipment Loaner Programme, in partnership with Ottobock.

Croatia hope to benefit from the programme by establishing a national ice sledge hockey team, and are now holding three training sessions per week with the ambition of recruiting fifteen national level players.

They are also holding various demonstration events across the country, focusing on schools and hockey clubs in order to promote the sport and recruit prospective players.

"To date, we have gathered a dozen people and now I invite all interested persons with disabilities to join us in training in Zagreb, and next year we could play our first match," said CNPC President Ratko Kovacic.

"The CNPC has a vision and a mission that as many people with disabilities participate in various sports activities, so we both decided to take this opportunity to promote hockey.

"In Paralympic sports and the Winter Paralympic Games it is definitely one of the most watched and the most popular sports."

The Ice Sledge Hockey Equipment Loaner Programme was set up by the IPC in partnership with Ottobock to grow the sport at grassroots level, with Italy and Norway benefiting in the past from the scheme as they attempted to gain further depth to their talent pool.

Norway and Italy have previously benefited from the programme ©Getty ImagesNorway and Italy have previously benefited from the programme ©Getty Images

Norway narrowly missed out on a medal in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi after a 3-0 defeat to Canada in the bronze medal match, whereas Italy ended the tournament in sixth.

It is hoped that the programme will help Croatia join the elite level now occupied by Italy and Norway, with the loan geared towards developing and promoting the sport in their country, building talent which could one day compete at the Paralympics.

Kovacic, was joined by Marko Husic, Director at Ottobock Adria and Marko Kocijan, head coach of Croatia's sledge hockey programme in launching the demonstration event in Zagreb, where a short match was arranged for those present, to give them a taste of the sport.

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