Welcome from IWRF
IWRF President Richard Allcroft are looking forward to an exciting tournament in Vejle.
The first IWRF major event that I will be attending this year is the European Championship Division A. Denmark have a long tradition of hosting events and I was last there for the World Championship in 2014.
This is the first Paralympic qualification event in 2019 and I know that all of the teams attending will have a focus on the two slots available that will take them to Tokyo 2020. There is of course the honour of being the European Champions and Great Britain will be looking to make it their fourth in a row. However, I know that there will be many nations wanting to knock them off the top slot. The host team will be strong and no doubt capitalising on their home ground and crowd.
It will also be exciting to see the Division B winners Netherlands competing as one of the best eight in Europe. I saw them play last year in Finland and if enthusiasm and passion wins medals, then they would be in the top three. The Division B final was close and with Switzerland coming second they will be looking to win this time round.
I hope to be able to speak with all of the nations attending to hear how Wheelchair Rugby is developing in their country. I know that there are many challenges and whilst Europe is a large continent it does have the advantage of many nations being relatively close to each other. This has to be a positive to try and grow the sport. The actual number of athletes playing in each country is often quite low and I know trying to find volunteers and athletes is not easy. The Paralympics will be back in Europe in 2024 and there will definitely be a focus not just in France but in the wider region. The IWRF can work with nations to develop ideas and coordinate development projects and it needs its members support to do this.
I would like to thank the Danish Local Organising Committee, its sponsors and partners for organising and supporting the IWRF European Championship. I'm looking forward to visiting the Municipality of Vejle to watch some great sport. They have declared 2019 as the "Year of Para-Sport" and appointed themselves the "capital" of Para Sport. The IWRF are proud to support them to achieve their goals.
I wish all of the teams attending a great event and good luck to you all.