The Netherlands began their title defence with victory over Switzerland ©IWAS

Hosts and world champions The Netherlands got the defence of their International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Powerchair Hockey European Championships title off to the perfect start as they thrashed Switzerland 9-1 on the opening day of the event in De Rijp.

The Dutch side, who are bidding to retain the crown they claimed in 2012 by beating neighbours Belgium in the final, were in ruthless form against a hapless Swiss team at the De Oosteveren Sport Hall.

The victory for The Netherlands saw them surge into top spot in Group A and laid down a marker for the rest of the field at the tournament, which concludes with the gold medal match on Sunday (July 17).

The contest between the hosts and Switzerland was the only match held on the first day of the competition.

It came after the Powerchair Hockey European Championships officially began with the Opening Ceremony, which was attended by London 2012 Paralympic Games bronze medallist Ronald Vink and leading Dutch speaker Otto Wijnen.

Vink finished third in the men's wheelchair singles event at London 2012 by overcoming compatriot Maikel Scheffers.

All competing players, as well as officials, were involved in the athletes' parade during the Ceremony at a venue which has been transformed to stage powerchair hockey matches.

Action began after the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony ©Twitter
Action began after the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony ©Twitter

A series of performances and other forms of entertainment brought the spectacle to a close before the hosts and Switzerland competed in the opening game of the tournament.

Both sides are due to be in action again tomorrow as The Netherlands take on Germany while the Swiss entertain Spain.

In Group B, Italy will play two matches as they go up against Belgium, the second seeds, and Denmark.

Belgium are also scheduled for two encounters as they will clash with Finland.

The tournament had originally been due to take place in Spanish city Alcobendas but they pulled out in February. 

It was claimed that organisational issues, communication misunderstanding and political issues had led to the withdrawal.