Former Dutch star Floris Jan Bovelander visited Poland from 20-22 February as a reward for a World Hockey Youth Challenge 'Live the Dream' organized in Gąsawa and Rogowo in May 2008. Bovelander visited Wrocław, Poznań and Łubianka. During the whole weekend he traveled almost 3200 km.
Youth Panel Member Marcin Grochal reported about this extraordinary visit: 3 days, 3 cities, 4 meetings, 1000 kids, 1 star.
On Friday 20 February Floris arrived in Wrocław and met with kids from local clubs. He presented himself and described his achievements and his current occupation. After that kids were asking questions about Floris’s career, hockey tournaments and even personal life. After the questions round, everybody had a chance to get an autograph from Floris and take a photo together. At the end Floris received small souvenir from the representatives of Wrocław hockey clubs. It was nearly evening and time to go to Poznań.
Saturday started with a press conference where Floris had a chance to answer questions of local press, radio and TV. He also gave an interview to polish hockey website – Prohokej.pl. Shortly after meeting with press, Floris came to the indoor hall where everything was ready to start. The title of the kids event was called “You can be an Olympian!”. Apart from Floris there was a group of Polish Olympic players that played in Rome in 1960, Munich in 1972 and in Sydney in 2000. They were all introduced and the show was ready to begin. Each of the invited groups from different parts of region (Gąsawa, Gniezno, Rogowo, Stęszew, Środa Wlkp and Poznań) was asked to prepare a 10 minute show to present not only their skills but also history and achievements. After each presentation kids were given the opportunity to get autographs from their idols. After this event everybody watched the semifinals of the Polish Indoor League that were played on Saturday at the same venue. That was truly a great day. A lot of hockey, even more fun and fantastic memories.
On the last day of visit, Floris went to Chełmża and Łubianka for a Youth Indoor Hockey Tournament. The visit started in Chełmża. Floris answered some questions and was asked to present skills in front of a very curious and demanding audience. He also did some dribbling and juggling. As the tournament was played in two venues, Floris moved to Łubianka to meet with second part of the participants. After the introduction he was asked to present his penalty corner skills. Almost every goalkeeper was given a chance to save a shot from the middle of the pitch. Most beautiful saves and shots were rewarded with applause. Floris was also given a challenge to aim sidebars and postbar. After the shooting competition he posed with all the teams for a souvenir snapshot. Again hundreds of autographs were given on photos, folders, sticks and even hands and faces! After that Floris watched the two final games of the tournament.
It was truly a great and memorable weekend. The fantastic reward from FIH was used to promote hockey in Poland and to give a chance to young players to meet and talk to the former international star. The Polish Hockey Association would like to thank everybody involved in preparation of the visit: FIH Development Manager Gabrielle van Doorn, Mr Stefan Fedejko from Rogowo and Henryk Ciesielczyk from Gąsawa – organizers of Polish Hockey Youth Challenge, Mr Tadeusz Marzec and Mr Roman Dubicki for organizing the meetings in Wrocław and Łubianka. And last but not least Floris Jan Bovelander, triple Olympian and a true winner in the sport!!!