Interview with Ofer Elkin, the Israeli rink hockey manager
Hello Ofer, could you quickly present us the Israeli federation, and more particularly the rink hockey section?
The Israeli Roller Skating Association was created in 1957. It has 3 sections. The first one is rink hockey, the second is inline hockey. There is also an Artistic skating section. Today, there are around 1500 members registered at the federation. Each section is autonomous. I'm in charge of rink hockey, we have 600 players and 10 clubs. 50 women are also registered but they don't have a championship yet.
There are championships for each category, U8, U11, U14, U16, U19 and seniors, but for the U8 it is tournaments only.
Speaking about girls, do you have a women's national team?
Not yet, the girls are still too young. We are starting to invest so that the girls improve fast. Last year, they played their first female tournament. We hope that things will go for the best for them... And who knows, maybe a women's championship will see the light as soon as next month after the holidays?
I have read that Israel hasn't registered its national team for a European championship for 17 years. Why having waited so long?
When I was 13 and a half, I played in a European championship with the Israeli team in Portugal, more precisely in Porto. We were playing the best teams in the world: Portugal, Spain, France. But each game was a humiliation. They were winning 30/0, 40/0.
We came back empty-handed, physically and mentally broken, we were only kids! And losing with such results was awful. The trauma remained until today. We needed time. That's why we have waited so long.
What do you expect from that competition?
We have no particular expectation for that competition. Indeed, we have gained a bit more experience and confidence over the last years. We are now at Alcobendas to learn, get back on track, go forward. We have nothing to lose and everything to win... Portugal won 12-0 today, which is a victory for us! We thought we would lose 30-0 or 40-0.
Does the team or the federation has a particular objective?
Of course, our aim is to win as many games as possible, even against the greatest European teams. But we are realistic people and we know that we cannot rival those great nations of rink hockey. The team is in Spain to represent its country with dignity, give its best and above all enjoy and make the most of that unique experience. We are also here to show the world that Israel is on the map, in economics and in sports, and that we came to fight for the first place.
Your goal for the future?
Our main goal is to increase the number of member players both in the men's and in the women's categories, enabling the youth to keep on skating and playing hockey. Taking part in international competitions is important for us as it enables us to get in the spotlight for a week.
Useful linksBy Thomas Gilbert
Translation: Chloé Seyres