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The sport of ball hockey in the UK takes another huge step forward as the international community arrives in Sheffield for the 2016 World Junior Championships. Teams at under 16, under 18 and under 20 level will battle it out at IceSheffield over the next week in the first major tournament held outside the sport's hotbeds of Europe and North America. Great Britain will face Canada, USA, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland over the next six days before the medal games next Tuesday 12 July.
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George Gortsos, President of the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF) said:
"The ISBHF is very proud to be coming to the UK. This nation and its members have become a huge part of the ISBHF family with their passion for the sport. We are committed as a family to make this a great legacy event for Ball Hockey UK and our family of nations. But most of all we are looking for this to have a positive impact for Ball Hockey UK, signalling itself as a world leader in our sport. 
We converge at IceSheffield with its wonderful facility, near the English Institute of Sport and the great staff that represent these facilities. Many activities outside of ball hockey will present the athletes at these wonderful facilities. 
On behalf of the ISBHF we would also like to thank Ball Hockey UK for making a dream come true and make this world championship occur."
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The host governing body, Ball Hockey UK, was founded in 2009 and now has 25 member clubs all over the UK. Team GB have competed at two previous World Juniors and four senior World events.
BHUK President Carl Wood said:
"It is with great personal pleasure that I am able to witness first-hand the progress of ball hockey development in the UK allowing us to not only showcase our Junior National Team programme but also to host our first major ISBHF World Championship event. The passion and dedication of my fellow committee, players, coaches and parents is evident in showing what can be created in such a short space of time.
BHUK has hosted Junior National Final tournaments over the past 4 years for our junior programmes which has met with a great response from these youngsters especially following on from Junior World Championship years where many have been following the live streams prior to Nationals. Yet again the live streaming of JWC 2016 will be crucial for us and our sport and as part of our ‪#‎GrowingTheGame‬ campaign.
A final thanks and admiration goes out to everyone involved in contributing to the development of our junior players in this country. Thanks for making the sport fun as our kids do love it. They are a vital part in the growth and development of ball hockey in Great Britain."
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The action gets underway at IceSheffield on the main Bauer Arena pad tomorrow at 7.30am with eight games each day. Admission at the venue is free of charge for spectators.
Matches from the tournament will also be streamed live via the tournament website www.sheffield2016.com - this coverage is also free of charge.
WEDNESDAY opening schedule: 7.30am CAN v USA U16; 9.30am CAN v USA U18; 11.30am CAN v USA U20; 1.30pm SVK v SWI U16; 3.30pm SVK v SWI U18; 5.30pm CZE v GBR U16; 7.30pm OPENING CEREMONY; 8.00pm CZE v GBR U18; 10.00pm CZE v GBR U20
The tournament website www.sheffield2016.com features all fixtures and squads for all competing nations, while there will be a lot of social media activity from the event via @sheffield2016 on both Facebook and Twitter.
Copy/images courtesy of Ball Hockey UK.
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There is a very strong Billingham/North East contingent taking part:
GB U16 - Dylan Hehir, Ethan Hehir, Jack Wakefield, James Hellens, Josh Nilsen, Kieran Fannan, Shaun Galloway, Stuart Jackson
GB U18 - James Nilsen, Ross Dixon, Sam Warnock, Coaches Simon Hehir & Gary Hellens.
GB U20 - Josh Nertney, Matthew Campbell, Megan Quigley, Peter Mallon, Ross Beall
Coaches Jenny Hehir and Rachel Serrell
Tournament staff - Carol Jackson, Alan Jackson, Sadie Pinchbeck
Good luck to all involved!