Senior hockey stars on their way to Italy

07 September 2021 | Sports

The Namibian Ice and Inline Association (NIIHA) will be sending a Senior Men’s Team to Roccaraso,
Italy, for the roller hockey World Championships, taking place there from 13 to 19 September.
Due to worldwide lockdowns, the World Championships were cancelled in 2020 and postponed until a suitable country could host the event. For the upcoming champs, 16 countries have registered to attend, and both players and supporters are looking forward to seeing world-class hockey played on its biggest stage.
The national team has been practicing as much as they could the last two years, and more so the last month, once the travel ban and contact sport ban was removed. The entire team moved to Swakopmund and trained together for the last month at The Dome, which is the home of the Coastal Pirates and national team head coach Brian Sobel.
“In a normal year we hold five to seven training camps or roughly one a month,” Coach Sobel said. “With the lockdown on sport, we missed about three months of training. Having the entire team commit to moving to Swakopmund and train together six days a week, has really brought the guys much closer, and they have a great sense of who they are and what they need to do. I feel this month together will benefit us moving forward, and really look forward to seeing how we compete against the other countries.”

Namibia’s current world ranking is 11th and has been placed in Group D along with Germany, Argentina and India. After a round robin play, the first seed from Group D will play a play-off game to move into the top 8 and play for the world championship. All remaining Group D teams will play against Group C teams (Latvia, Mexico, Chinese Taipei and Poland) for the World Skate Cup.
Namibia was set to send a Junior Men’s team this year, but the Junior Division was cancelled, and World Skate decided only to support a Senior Division. The Namibian team lost two players due to this, but was able to add three more veteran players to the team, all of which have 3 to 4 years junior experience and 1 to 2 years of senior experience.
The team is captained by Sean Liechti, with Henrik Diekmann and Christiaan Coetzee as assistant captains, along with returning veteran players Amandus Röttcher, Max Finkeldey, Tiago Kutz and Pablo Laporte. Top rookies are Luca Mentzel, Keanan Simpson, Valerik Hilbert and Arian van der Plas, and the team is rounded off with Henning Schulze, JW Coetzee, Kean Redelinghuys, Julian Dedig and Jürgen Tegetoff. The assistant coach is Luke Stamatiadis and team manager is Lucille Coetzee.
According to captain Sean Liechti, “We are all really excited to have the opportunity to return to Worlds. It was a real bummer when it was cancelled last year. The guys are really working hard and have come together as a strong team. Team chemistry is high, and it feels like a big family. We all just want to do our best and represent Namibia and make the country proud of us.”

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