England Ice Hockey join forces with Blind Ice Hockey UK

We are delighted to welcome Blind Ice Hockey UK under the England Ice Hockey umbrella, with a new programme set to offer greater opportunities to take part in the sport.

Blind ice hockey is the same exhilarating and competitive sport as ice hockey, with only one main difference – all of the players are legally blind. 

Players must be classified as eligible in one of the three International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) classifications.

The most significant modification is that the sport features an adapted puck that makes noise and is both bigger and slower than a traditional puck.

Players’ levels of vision range from legally blind – approximately 10% vision or less – to totally blind, with the lowest vision athletes playing defence or in goal. 

Blind ice hockey is an excellent spectator sport as it is easily recognisable to the average hockey fan, with minimal rule adaptations to help with gameplay and player safety.

Custom 3ft high nets are also used rather than the traditional 4ft nets, keeping the puck low and near the ice so it can make noise and be tracked aurally.

The sport is currently played competitively in Canada and the USA and there are programmes in Finland, Sweden and the UK.

Watch below to find out more about how the sport works:

We are excited to play our part in supporting the development of the sport by formalising our partnership to officially recognise the discipline. 

In November 2023, Blind Ice Hockey UK were granted funding from the Primary Club’s ‘James fund’ to offer ‘try ice skating and blind ice hockey’ sessions in 10 locations across the UK, in a bid to foster participation growth in 2024/25 and beyond. 

This funding goes a long way to offering blind and visually impaired people across the country the opportunity to participate in a new sport and hopefully want to take it up more regularly.

There will be five sessions in 2024 and five in 2025, starting in Edinburgh on January 28.

Romford (February 24) and Cambridge (May 18) will then follow, with the aim to integrate players into local ice hockey teams, build blind ice hockey teams where there is enough interest, and work towards a European blind ice hockey summit in 2025. 

The ultimate aim is to build a national team to compete in future international competitions, and we look forward to playing our part and working with England Ice Hockey and Ice Hockey UK to make that happen .

Duncan Hough, England Ice Hockey vice-chair, said: “It is a really exciting time for blind ice hockey in the UK, and we are really excited to help support the sport on the next step of its journey. 

“As an organisation, we are passionate about making hockey as accessible as possible by removing barriers to participation and promoting accessibility.

“Bringing Blind Ice Hockey UK under the England Ice Hockey umbrella is a natural way of reinforcing our commitment to that, and then helping to develop the international pathway, working with IHUK.”

Henry Staelens, Ice Hockey UK chief executive officer, said: “We’re pleased to give our support and backing to this exciting new programme. Ice hockey is an exhilarating sport, and it’s important to give as many people as possible the chance to play.

“The concept is fantastic and we will use our relationships with federations around the world to give Blind Ice Hockey UK the chance to thrive internationally.”

Nathan Tree, Blind Ice Hockey UK founder and chairperson, said: “I have been working on building blind ice hockey in the UK for nearly five years now, and this is a huge step in the right direction. 

“I just want to offer the blind and visually impaired community a chance to try something different and experience the sport I love.”

To learn more about Blind Ice Hockey UK, please visit their website: https://blindicehockey.org.uk/

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