This fantastic club is close to our hearts and is truly inclusive, offering disabled and able-bodied players the chance to compete together equally.
We Took 5 Minutes to Chat to Karl Nicholson, Chair of the British Para Ice Hockey, GB Men’s & Women’s Programmes about his many years involved with the game, what to look out for in the coming months, and how women are stepping up to play a bigger role in the sport…
Karl, you are the Chairman of the BPIHA, the Captain of the Manchester Mayhem Para Ice Hockey Club, an Assistant Coach with both the Men’s & Women’s programmes and currently a GB Men’s player, so you are most definitely an expert! Tell us about your journey into the world of Ice Hockey and how you started out…
It’s been a long journey, 25 years in fact. I started as my athletics coach kept badgering me to come and try the sport. I pretty quickly fell in love with how tough the sport is to master and my joy of playing a team sport.
The British Para Ice Hockey Association (BPIHA) is the sport’s National Governing Body in Great Britain, tell us more about the Association…
The Association was set up back in the mid 80’s, back then it was known at the British Sledge Hockey Association (BSHA). The Association is pretty much responsible for all aspects of the sport, from everyday admin to the domestic league and the GB programs we have, as well as sourcing funding and sponsorship deals. Given the women’s game is no hitting, we’ve been in contact with other leagues around the world who are also co-ed and we have just added in some new rules to facilitate the expanse of more women playing in the league this year. On top of this we are also discussing where new teams can be supported so the league continues to grow. There are also some discussions with the sports stakeholders to help a behind the scenes about how this will look and be implemented.
Talk us through the National League and the GB National Programme and how they work…
Given the demand for ice time at every rink, the domestic league runs between May and September. We sit down ahead of this will all the clubs to discuss changes that we want to implement.
As for the GB programs, we are mostly hands off once we appoint a head. Obviously, we are kept in the loop on how the squads are progressing, but the Association is mostly responsible for looking to bring sponsors, or funding, for those programmes.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming weeks and months?
After 2 long years the resumption of the domestic league.
What would you tell anyone who was looking to get involved with the sport?
If you enjoy a physical challenge and want to constantly be challenged, you should seek out your nearest club.
Where do you see the sport, and yourself in five years’ time?
Five years from now we will have a women’s team playing at the para’s, as for me I’ll be retired, hopefully on a beach somewhere!
I’d like to add that without the continued support of PLS, the sport and the GB programs we really wouldn’t be where we are right now, and I really would like to express not just mine, but the head coaches of each programmes, gratitude.