By Robert Hands
Cyprus will be hosting the EuroHockey Indoor Championship III (Men), taking place in Nicosia at the Tassos Papadopoulos-Eleftheria Sports Hall in Engomi, from the 12th to the 14th January. It is a biennial official national team event of the European Hockey Federation and the first ever international hockey tournament to be held in Cyprus.
The national team of Cyprus will be making its maiden appearance at the indoor format. The competition also includes the national teams of Belarus, Greece, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Wales. The teams will all play each other over the three days of the event and the winner – who will gain promotion to EuroHockey Indoor Championship II in 2020 – will be determined by the overall points classification. The 2016 edition in Finland was won by Italy.
Indoor hockey is an exciting variant of traditional “field hockey”, featuring six-a-side teams on smaller pitches and some rule differences, including that the ball cannot be hit but only pushed or deflected. Each game lasts 40 minutes (two periods of 20 minutes) and it is often characterised as quick, technical and physical.
During a press conference, Petros Karafokas, President of the Cyprus Hockey Association (CHA), said “This is the most important task ever undertaken by our association and we are all working very hard to bring it to fruition. I would like to thank the volunteers for their great effort and our sponsors for their invaluable support.”
Karafokas also spoke about the CHA’s determination to make the sport more widely known in Cyprus, visiting schools – both private and state – and working with physical education teachers to inform children about hockey and encourage them to take up the sport. “Hopefully, as a result of attending this event, we will see an increase in the number of pupils involved in our sport”, Karafokas said.
The Chairman of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, Dinos Michaelides, said “I would like to congratulate the Cyprus Hockey Association. Even though hockey is not well-known in Cyprus, it is actually one of the oldest sports on the island and it deserves to have more exposure… It is a great honour for the Association to have been entrusted with hosting a European tournament.”
Opap Cyprus is the principal sponsor of the event, which is also supported by the Cyprus Sports Organisation, the Cyprus Olympic Committee, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Petrolina, Pizza Hut, Cipa, Classic Hotel, APS Athienites Ltd, Euthor, Yiakoumi & Partners Ltd, MerinoKnit Ltd, Second Cup and BR HUB.
Entrance to the games at the Tassos Papadopoulos-Eleftheria Sports Hall in Engomi is free of charge. Matches will commence at 10am on Friday and Saturday, with the last match of the day at 7:20pm. On Sunday, action will start at 8am and the event will conclude with the Prize Giving Ceremony at 4pm. Cyprus will face Scotland at 11:10am on Friday and Belarus at 5pm, on Saturday it’s the turn of Greece (12:20pm) and Wales (7:20pm) and on the last day, Slovenia at 11:30am and Slovakia at 3pm.
For the complete schedule of matches visit the CHA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Cyprus-Hockey-1620824201465119/. More information about hockey in Cyprus, and details of the academy for children aged 7-16, can be found on the CHA’s website, https://www.cyprushockey.org