News ID: 139285
Published: 0738 GMT April 10, 2016

Budding Iran hockey players eye Asian trophy

Budding Iran hockey players eye Asian trophy

With only a few months to two important inline hockey and skating international events — Inline Hockey World Championships in Italy (June 11-25) and Asian Roller Sports and Inline Hockey Championships in China (October 23-November 2) — efforts are underway by the Islamic Republic of Iran Skating Federation to dispatch strong teams to the competitions.

According to the federation officials, the players have been selected in qualifiers.

They say the teams are straining every nerve and sinew to have a convincing performance in men’s and women’s hockey and skating events, arguing that insufficient financial support and consequently shortage of equipment are the main obstacles to their progress.

Iran’s rivals, particularly Asian countries, have made significant investments in skating and inline hockey fields and are progressing in full gallop.

Iranian skating and inline hockey sides have already stood on top podiums in Asia and won colorful medals in world contests. The federation views the Italian meet as warm-up for the Asian tourney. Iran is resolute to grab the hockey gold in China.

Iran Daily went to the training camp of Iranian men’s and women’s skating and inline hockey teams in Tehran to learn more about their conditions, conducting exclusive interviews with Sports Minister Mahmoud Goudarzi, Iran Skating Federation president Fariba Mohammadian and the management staff of the national teams there.

Skating has not received enough attention in Iran, admitted Goudarzi, vowing that his ministry is doing its best to help develop it.

When the federation presents its plans to the ministry, it will receive support, he pledged.

“Skating and inline hockey are quite popular among young people and their families in Iran and need no promotional effort to gain popularity. The ministry is quite keen on shoring them up.”

The minister is convinced that enthusiasm and hard work will help produce favorable results.

Skating is a nascent sport in Iran and the federation is required to expand its efforts to guarantee its progress, he concluded.

It is quite illogical to expect the government to be the sole financer of skating, Mohammadian said.

“Like developed countries, we plan to attract private sector resources to support our athletes. The private producers and service companies have not yet believed in commercials in sporting fields that could promote their products effectively. The link between sports and industry is required to be strengthened in the country.”

Mohammadian noted that she, and her team, are doing their best to improve the sport’s infrastructures which is a difficult and long-term undertaking.

She added the ministry has always had a favorable interaction with her federation, stressing that domestic media and press can help a great deal in improving the sport.

“In Italy, we seek to improve our world ranking,” said Kaveh Sedqi, the head coach of men’s and women’s skating and inline hockey teams.

In the group stage, Iran will take on Venezuela, Macau and England in men’s hockey meet.

“Our women will make their debut in world inline hockey tournament. We are doing every effort to make them match-fit.”

He recalled that he won a silver medal as the national team’s coach-cum-player at 2010 Asian Inline Hockey Championships.

In March 2017, continued Sedqi, Iran is to pit its ice hockey team in the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, for the first time.

To this end, we have called up Iranian internationals to attend a daylong camp in Asiago on June 27 – after Italy’s championships – in a bid to recruit the qualified players.

He added 12 athletes have welcomed the invitation.

“I am quite upbeat that we will surprise rivals in Japan’s Winter Olympics.”

“I have been the referee of world inline hockey junior and senior tournaments since 2010,” said Ramin Atiqeh-Chi, the head of the federation’s Skating and Hockey Committee and a member of the Referees Committee of the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports.

Atiqeh-Chi added he judged the final between Italy and USA at 2013 Inline Hockey World Championships in Cali, Colombia.

He also said Iran’s hockey squad is eager to have lustrous performance in 2016.

The federation is in dire need of the ministry’s financial support, Atiqeh-Chi also reiterated, boasting that the hockey players have already fetched one silver and two bronzes of the Asian competitions.

“I have been a skater since I was nine,” said Helia Sohani, the captain of Iranian women’s inline hockey team.

Iran is determined to lift the Asian women’s trophy in China, added the skipper.

Iran’s national skaters and hockey players even pay for their apparels, regretted Sohani, revealing it’s just players’ mania that has kept them going.

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Resource: exclusive
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