Korea Sets the Example
Korean ice hockey has never looked so good and during the recent pre-olympic qualifying tournament in Japan Team GB should be wishing they were looking in the mirror during the first game.
With the Winter Olympics being held in Korea in 2018 the sports governing body has been investing in the team. Two new facilities are in the process of being built and the Korean Ice Hockey Association has lobbied the government hard for more funding and has persuaded the Korean military to allow its members to play in military leagues during their compulsory national service. The result is that Korea have been promoted to World Championship Division 1A for this season and replaces the Ukraine in that group and in 2010 Anyang Halla won the Asian League championship. They also shared the title in 2011. Ice hockey is also growing rapidly in Korea and their national team is being noticed internationally as well.
This invest paid off other the weekend too as they defeated Great Britain in the first game on penalties then lost in overtime to hosts Japan before shutting out Romania. They may not be world beaters yet but the Koreans are showing that by putting in some investment in the national team the results will come and when the team lace up in Hungary for the world championships they will be putting up a stiff challenge to keep their place in the group.
The Korean system puts to shame the system in UK. Team GBâ€™s governing body managed to offer no days of training for the squad prior them flying out to Japan and were forced to give up the right to host the tournament whilst rumours were abound that some players had been selected more on political lines as EIHL teams did not want to give up too many players to the national team. Despite this Tony Handâ€™s team once again overcame the odds to produce a terrific win.
The question for Team GB and IHUK now is with sides like Korea investing in their national team how long can Great Britain continue to preform with no invest, support and a national team system that appears much more ad hoc then systematic.