SOCHI, Russia – For the development program “Balkan Ice Hockey Union“, the IIHF has been named the International Sports Federation of the Year by the Peace and Sport Awards 2012.
The Balkan program of the International Ice Hockey Federation was nominated together with projects from the International Gymnastics Federation (“Gymnastics for all”) and the World Taekwondo Federation (“Taekwondo Peace Corps”).
Joël Bouzou, founder of Peace and Sport, commended the IIHF’s Balkan endeavor, calling it “a remarkable initiative” and “the first ever sport alliance founded in the Balkan with the primary goal of promoting peace and friendly relations among the Balkan nations”.
The awards ceremony was held on Thursday, 1 November as part of the 2012 Peace and Sport International Forum in Sochi, Russia.
“I am very happy and proud to accept this award on behalf of the IIHF and the Balkan Ice Hockey Union,” said IIHF President and IOC Executive Committee member René Fasel. “It reinsures us that we did the right thing by identifying the Balkan region to stage a developmental project of this scale.”
René Fasel recognizes two former IIHF Council Members for making it possible to launch the “Balkan Ice Hockey Union”.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Ernest Aljancic and the support from the Vice President of Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev,” said Fasel. “I would like to extend a warm thank you to both Ernest and Alex for their commitment to this cause.”
Encompassing nine countries with a total population of 150 million, the BIHU project aims to extend the regional co-operation between the members during a four-year period with a string of short- and long term activities. The participating nations are: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.
“What makes me real proud is that this goes beyond ice hockey and sport,” said René Fasel. “This is truly also a humanitarian peace project directed to a region which we all know has suffered greatly in the ‘90s. The project is ice hockey’s contribution of bringing stability, unity and happiness back to the region.”
Launched in 2008, the Peace and Sport Awards have become one of the highlights of the Peace and Sport International Forum.
The objective is to put the spotlight on initiatives and individuals who have particularly contributed to peace and social stability in the world in 2012.
These Awards are meant to “reward the expertise of various stakeholders working for sustainable peace through sport, through initiatives which promote best practices in the field.”
Under the auspices of the BIHU project (aimed at boys and girls under-16), there have already been two Balkan Ice Hockey Festivals organized in the two of the membership nations. The first one was held in Bled, Slovenia in August of 2011, while second was held in Izmit, Turkey in the summer of 2012. In total, 135 players took part.
Click here for an IIHF.com article about the project, published in December 2011.
Facts & Figures:
1st Balkan Hockey Festival in Bled in Summer 2011
- 9 countries (BIH, BUL, CRO, GRE, MKD, ROU, SLO, SRB, TUR)
- U16 players
- 45 players, 9 coaches, 19 officials
- 5 days
- Ice and off-ice training, classroom sessions, social events
- All players divided into 4 mixed teams
2nd Balkan Hockey Festival in Izmit (TUR) in Summer 2012
- 8 teams in total
- 8 countries (BIH, BUL, GRE, MKD, ROU, SLO, SRB, TUR)
- Approx. 90 players (double from previous year)