Participants from a total of 27 Asian countries participated to the one week camp in Augustand returned back home with meaningful memories, new friendships but most importantly with new ice hockey skills and know-how. The selection process was the following: the 23 Asian IIHF Member National Associations (MNAs) nominated their participants via their National Olympic Committees and other members of the Olympic Council of Asia, that are not IIHF members at a current stage, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Pakistan and Vietnam, also selected participants. The Oceanian IIHF MNAs (Australia and New Zealand) were also invited to take part this joint venture program.
The program was packed with ice-sessions, off-ice practices, classroom sessions as well as scrimmages, focusing on coaching leadership development along with athletes- and officiating programs. Right from the first day and while walking the hallways, it was possible to feel the team spirit and see that new friendship had been forged. “This project can definitely have a huge impact on ice hockey development in Asia and is also seen as only the first step. We will carefully evaluate and review the project and come up with the next development initiatives.” said Tony Tarraf, Head of Athletes Development and special projects for the Olympic Council of Asia.
The first discussions between the OCA and the IIHF started in November 2022. “I remember when the first discussions started and now we can say that we are finally there. We are proud that it has been possible to establish this cooperation with the Olympic Council of Asia and get the project off the ground. At the same time, it has opened discussions for several areas and projects to develop ice hockey in the future”, said Aivaz Omorkanov, IIHF Vice-President for Asia and Oceania. Aivaz Omorkanov also thanked the Olympic Council of Asia Headquarter, the Sport Ministry of Uzbekistan as well as the National Olympic Committee from Uzbekistan along with the Uzbekistan Ice Hockey Federation for their support and cooperation in hosting and organizing the first U16 Asian Ice Hockey Camp. Since the first exchanges with the IIHF, they have made all possible efforts to organize a successful and memorable camp.
The IIHF is extremely satisfied with how the puzzle pieces came together in several areas and responsibilities shared amongst all stakeholders. The dedication and passion from every single athlete and participant on- and off the ice, in the classroom or when they were just sitting together to discuss the next steps, is exactly what was expected. The IIHF and the OCA are looking forward to reaching new heights in the region.