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British underdogs head to Japan

The British Paralympic team jet off to the Land of the Rising Sun this week to partake in the ice sledge hockey World Championships (Pool B).

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The competition lies adjacent with International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on 3 December, which was proclaimed in 1992.

The GB squad head to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in Japan, where they will compete others in their pool, including hosts Japan, Czech Republic and Slovakia. This year the team have welcomed a new Welsh head coach to lead them with hopes that they qualify for the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics 2018.

 “I think the fact that we are the underdogs has helped to bond the team together with our common goal.”

Ian Offers, currently working in IT security and now GB’s new head coach, has coached sledge hockey for four years. Despite the rankings, the patriotic Welshman says the team are thriving on the “underdog spirit” which he believes will be good preparation for the championships. Czech Republic currently sit at the top of Pool B, with Japan ranked second, Slovakia third and Great Britain fourth. This is Ian’s first competition leading the team but says “Our aim is to go out and get an early win in the tournament and then build on that momentum.”

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Ice sledge hockey has the same rules as hockey and is still full contact, but was created for disabled people to enjoy the sport too.

Tyler Christopher plays forward for Team GB and Cardiff Huskies. This will be Tyler’s third World Championship and in Japan 2013, his team won bronze. He says the sport has made him realise that his life in sport “wasn’t over” after losing both his legs in battle. He says the new coach has “rejuvenated” the team and put the fun back into the game.

Currently the team is self-funded as there is no funding for the sport at present, this includes their own flights and essentials. As it stands, the team train across the UK to cater for all players who live miles apart. Ian wants to make it his mission to secure a central base at the Ice Arena Wales as he says, “It is easy to get to, it has great facilities and Cardiff is a great city with lots to do.”

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