(Photo: Frank Reelick)

The Swiss Hockey Federation and the local organizer Hockey Club Olten are delighted and proud to be the host of the women’s EuroHockey Nations Challenge in Olten, Switzerland. The preparation for this event was as usual for any other event, but some surprises came across as well. Serbia, Croatia and Turkey unfortunately had to withdrawn. Although their reasons not to play were valid, it was a big disappointment for all parties involved.

The tournament got finally underway with Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Georgia and host Switzerland. Especially for Georgia it was a big challenge. Both the National Federation in Georgia as Swiss Hockey had to make major organizational and political efforts to get the team on time in Olten. The young Georgian team (the youngest player is only 14) played the EuroHockey Nations Challenge for the first time ever. Georgia only had international experience with playing against Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Such circumstances and conditions show also the difference between a C and an A European Championship. On one hand there are the difficulties of small Hockey countries, such travel to international tournaments and the possibility to get to pay for this. The resources of these federations are limited, both financially as in terms of resources.

That’s why some National Associations have to take the touch decision if they can only participate at the EuroHockey Nations Challenge or if they can afford to play at the Alpen Cup, the ideal preparation tournament, as well. That’s why the participation of Georgia is so important for the development of European hockey.

The whole tournament takes place within a visible framework, however with a family and cordial atmosphere. Many volunteers are always there to assist all the participants and other guest to feel well at this event.

Of course, winning is key at the EuroHockey Nations Challenge. The goal of the Swiss team is the promotion to the B-group and the Swiss national team had a two years preparation for this. But Switzerland is not the only country with the same objective. Czech Republic and Austria are also looking for promotion. In this regard, there is no difference between an tournament at the highest level or the EuroHockey Nations Challenge.