Belinda Green and Noella Angel, two talented athletes from Australia, are among more than 30 participants representing four different countries at the esteemed 2023 WPIH Skills Development Camp, presented by Citi, held in the vibrant Thai capital, Bangkok.
The second day of the camp, which took place on a scorching Saturday (29 July), featured rigorous on-ice training sessions followed by insightful video analyses back at the hotel. Under the guidance of coaches Espen Hegde and Emma Poynton, these passionate athletes were relentlessly pushing their boundaries to enhance their knowledge and prowess in Para ice hockey.
In a male-dominated sport, Green and Angel stand out as the only female athletes representing Australia in Bangkok. However, they are not alone, as they have been joined by six other female Para ice hockey players from Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
Their presence signifies progress in promoting women's participation in the sport and fosters a strong sense of camaraderie among athletes from different nations. Their paths to Para ice hockey diverge, with 48-year-old Belinda Green having no prior sports experience before 2022.
Her journey into the sport began unexpectedly when she attended a "Have-a-go Day" event showcasing various Para sports. Initially, she was drawn to try Para ice hockey, but it wasn't until the following day, when she got to step onto the ice that she knew she had found her calling.
Green's commitment to the sport led her to embrace a rigorous training routine, including wheelchair tennis, ultimately leading her to the WPIH Skills Development Camp in Bangkok.
Equestrian Pro to Para Athlete
Noella Angel, 30, has a different sporting background, having excelled in equestrian since her early years.
Diagnosed with arterial vascular malformation (AVM), a condition that affects blood vessels, soft tissues, and bones, Angel became a Para athlete in 2013 and reached the high-performance level in equestrian. Drawing on her experience from equestrian, she recognizes the parallels between the two sports, highlighting the importance of preparation, proper workouts, and recovery plans.
Enduring the intense camp routine in Bangkok, the Australian athletes find themselves in awe of the opportunity to interact with athletes from diverse cultural backgrounds. Initially, they were cautious in getting to know one another, but as time progressed, friendships blossomed, and the team spirit flourished.
The experience of training and performing in an international environment adds a competitive edge that propels them to improve their skills. Both Green and Angel appreciate the chance to observe and learn from their fellow athletes, seeking inspiration and adopting techniques to elevate their performance.
Despite the sweltering Thai summer, the athletes express their gratitude for the well-equipped ice rink in Bangkok, which provides ease of accessibility. While Green cherishes the feeling of freedom on the ice sled, Angel emphasizes that Para ice hockey offers a unique and exhilarating experience incomparable to any other sport.
As breakthrough athletes for Australia, Green and Angel aspire to see more women embracing Para ice hockey. They recognize the empowering sensation that comes with gliding on the ice, and they encourage others to step forward and give it a try.
The 2023 WPIH Skills Development Camp in Bangkok holds not only the promise of skill enhancement but also the forging of lasting connections among athletes worldwide. With the event in full swing until 30th July, the sports community eagerly anticipates witnessing the transformative impact of this prestigious camp.
For those interested, the World Para Ice Hockey website and social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide updates and glimpses of the enthralling action taking place at the camp.