One of the most prolific and dedicated ice hockey officials to work within the IIHF and in Belgian ice hockey, Bollue’s boundless contributions to ice hockey development have made a positive impact for dozens of ice hockey nations worldwide.
“Johan Bollue exemplified the very best characteristics of our ice hockey family…the willingness to go out and help others, to work tirelessly to pass on knowledge and share ideas…all for the growth of the game,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif. “He will be deeply missed by the IIHF and all of our members that were positively impacted by his actions, but we can take comfort that the shining example that he set will inspire all of our coaches, players and officials for years to come.”
Born on 18 August 1964 in Leuven, Belgium, Bollue’s life was characterized by a self-starting, entrepreneurial approach as well as a dynamic drive and dedication to any project he was involved with. As a teenager he enlisted was a glider pilot from 1980-1983 with the Belgian Air Cadets, and then served his country as a paratrooper and Sergeant Instructor in the Belgian Air Force. He was also involved for ten years in the restaurant industry as a partner with NV Socoma restaurant group and with his own Bollue Concept trading company.
Bollue’s gift for teaching manifested itself later through ice hockey, starting in 1994 when he began to organize ice hockey camps around Belgium as part of the All Star Hockey School initiative, which still operates today. He joined the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation in 2007 as a U8/U10 coordinator and Coach Developer, and then moved up to be a long time GM of the Belgium National team, guiding them through 15 IIHF World Championships in different categories between 2008-2014.
In 2009 Bollue was appointed as RBIHF Vice-President and Sports Development Director, positions he continued to hold up to the time of his passing.
Bollue’s work with the RBIHF exemplified his dedication to the game and his commitment to its growth. As all positions within the federation are volunteer-based, he dedicated countless hours of time and effort to overseeing ice hockey’ growth and development in his country. His aptitude for identifying new and innovative ways to reach out to new players and introduce kids to the sport manifested itself in the founding of the HelloHockey.be online community, as well as his efforts to grow the game through recruitment and promotion via social media…which in true Bollue fashion he then taught other ice hockey nations how to use effectively.
He was always one of the first to take part in the IIHF’s annual Hockey Development Camps in Vierumaki, Finland, and was a Learn To Play Coach Developer from 2007-2021. He was also present in support of ice hockey at all three Youth Olympic Winter Games, first helping to organize the Skills Challenge event in Innsbruck and Lillehammer 2016 and then coaching a team composed of mixed-NOC players at the inaugural 3-on-3 tournament in Lausanne 2020. He was also a key contributor to the development of the IIHF Development Hub and was regularly present in the Skills4All sport development webinar series.
But Bollue’s record of contributions to ice hockey do not do enough to underline the positive impact he had in ice hockey growth around the world. By instilling the love of the game and love of teaching the game into so many young players, referees, coaches, and officials, his influence will be felt at all levels within the ice hockey world for generations to come.
“Johan was an exceptional member of the IIHF family,” said Petr Briza, IIHF Senior Vice-President and Chairman of the Youth and Junior Development Committee, for which Bollue served on for nearly 10 years. “He was the kind of person that was open to work with anyone who needed help anytime and was always ready to offer his knowledge and experience to assist others with ice hockey development. He had so much to give to our sport, and coming from a smaller ice hockey nations knew how to relate to and guide other nations grow their programs.
“The IIHF family lost a person whose dedication to the game and passion for teaching others was truly incredible. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”