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POLISH Hockey Marathon – 1 pitch, 2 days, 40 teams, 600 players and LOT OF FUN!!!!
02 June 2004
During the weekend 15-16 May in Gniezno there was a Polish Hockey Marathon organised. Traditionally we made decision to play 24 hours hockey to made it the most unforgettable and the most exciting tournament for young players.
But our Marathon started almost 2 months earlier. During Sport Organizers Training, organised by Polish NA in March, about 30 young people, from all over Poland, thought how to make better marathon then it was last year. Our promoters, Marzena Wawro and Marcin Grochal who attend to World Youth Hockey Festival’03 workshops, had relay their knowledge to others and we create 3 groups responsible for Promotion, Event Attractions and Sport. Promotion group create flyers and posters which have been distribute in Gniezno. Big banner above main street in Gniezno have been created. Week before Marathon we made hockey places in Gniezno where every person that wanted to try his or hers skills in hockey was given such possibility with stick and ball. So all citizens of Gniezno knew about our event before it started. Event Attraction group organise face painting, penalty stroke competition and many other games outside the main area of youth tournament. Sport group was responsible for umpiring and keeping control on all games played during Marathon.
We decided to use all possibilities to invite as many teams as possible. Old Boys form Poznań, U18 A and B teams, Junior teams from Gniezno and of course u14 teams both boys and girls had participate in our main youth hockey event this year. Polish Hockey Association have paid almost all costs so arriving teams had only to pay travel costs.
The form of our marathon was a youth tournament. U14 teams have played from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. During the most difficult hours(2.00 am – 6.00 am) u14 teams went to rest and our junior teams made their 'job'. They showed hockey on very high level so younger players that didn’t went sleep could saw few very exciting games. We also found some time to organise traditional penalty stroke competition for every players that wanted to participate(the goalkeeper was a national junior squad member). The best of them were awarded(hockey gadgets sponsored by NA).On Sunday morning we continue to play youth tournament. Good show was Old Boys match which have showed that even very experienced hockey players still want to participate in our youth games.
As the watchword of marathon was 'junior club development' we decided to attract as many young players as possible. We invite all parents that could come so they can see how powerful sport we are playing. We tried to make fundaments for future hockey club development by inviting young players, that have never play hockey, to try their skills with ball and stick. Some of them were very promising. We also hope that our Sport Organizers will help creating new youth clubs in their cities.
How look good tournament without opening ceremony??? POOR!!! So we create Opening Ceremony. We invite president of city Gniezno and president of Polish Hockey Association. Their words encourage youngsters to participate in interesting game which is hockey. At the end we can saw 'ARABESKA DANCING GROUP' performance, which have also helped us last year.
Marathon was very successful event. About 40 teams, 250 players take part. We manage to show all kids that there are also many their peers who are fascinated a team game which is hockey and that there are many adults that really care about their hockey future. We hope that next year’s marathon will also be as fantastic experience as it was this year.
by Marcin Grochal

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