SOFIA – The Bulgarian capital of Sofia hosted the latest programs operated as part of the Balkans Development Project.
Collectively known as the Balkan Ice Hockey Union (BIHU) it consists of nine nations – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey – who participate in a number of development events each season.
Three programs were operated in Sofia: a Presidents’ and General Secretaries’ Meeting, a Marketing Workshop and a Goalkeeper Clinic.
The events in Sofia were both educational and celebratory in nature, since they just followed the news that the IIHF had won the Peace and Sports Award as the International Sports Federation of the Year for its Balkan program, which was recognized for bringing players and officials together from a region with a history of conflict.
After welcoming the presidents and general secretaries from the involved national associations on the first day, the program’s chairman Ernest Aljancic held a speech to the audience.
“Now is a time to celebrate and a time to work harder. The Peace and Sports Award is a great responsibility for the future, as it is an opportunity for making contact with the media and promoting ice hockey in the Balkan region,” the former IIHF Council member said.
To conclude the meeting, the participants produced an operations plan in view of the program’s schedule in 2013, including a Hockey Development Camp, a Hockey Festival and a Hockey Day.
The Marketing Workshop began on the second day with the theme of “10 Steps to Finding Sponsors and Improve Your Revenue Stream”. It was led by Dr Patrick Cotting, the CEO of CCI Media.
The workshop was a continuation of the IIHF Marketing Workshop that was held in Bled, Slovenia, in March 2011. The information collected during the workshop will provide a direction for the Balkans, which works hand-in-hand with the plan developed during the Presidents’ and General Secretaries’ Meeting.
The Goalkeeper Clinic saw 21 goalkeepers and nine goalkeeper coaches from eight nations take part in the five-day program lead by two IIHF goalkeeper mentors and instructors.
The program included eight on-ice sessions involving all participants and ten shooters in station-based practices. Additionally, the goalkeepers had three off-ice sessions and there were nine off-ice sessions for the coaches focusing on all aspects of netminder development, including practice planning.
A large improvement was seen in all goalkeepers during the week and the coaches returned home with the knowledge and confidence to teach the goalkeepers in their nation.
The next program scheduled in the Balkans is the 2013 U16 Hockey Development Camp that will take place in Izmit, Turkey, during late January/early February 2013.