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Hockey: Eagles get ready to participate in Cup Winners Challenge cup in Malta

The BDO Cup Winners Challenge is organised every year by the European Hockey Federation for Clubs who have won their respective National Cup. In April 2006, Portugal hosted the tournament in Lousada and in September 2006 the European Hockey Federation announced that Sliema Hotsticks Hockey Club from Malta will be hosting the 2007’s edition between the 5th of April and the 8th of April 2007. The tournament will be played at Malta’s state-of-the-art Hockey Centre between 8 teams which won last seasons' national cup of Wales, Belarus, Denmark, Gibraltar, Hungary, Croatia, Finland and Malta.

Wales are being represented by Cardiff University who reached the 18th BDO Cup Winners’ Challenge by winning the Welsh National Knockout Cup in March 2006, beating Wrexham HC 2 - 1 after extra time. This season has seen the Cardiff team climb to 2nd in Premier Division 2, and promotion to Premier Div 1 is in sight with only 3 games remaining. Belarus is being represented by RCOR-MIF Minsk, a team who is very young and competing in the BDO Cup Winners Challenge for the first team in their club’s history.

The Danes are being represented by indoor specialists Slagelse Hockey Club who will try to adept their indoor skills on the outdoor field while Eagles HC are coming directly from the rock of Gibraltar and are undoubtedly are one of the favourites to reach the final on Sunday 8th April. Eagles HC is the most experienced club in the tournament and has the unique distinction of having been Gibraltar’s first ever representative club side in both the European Club Championship (Lyon 1972) and the European Cup Winners Cup (Barcelona 1990).

The Eagles have participated in European Competitions every year since 1990 obtaining Silver medal on various occasions in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions. The Eagles can also boast of having played in the ‘A’ Division amongst the best European players while throughout its history has been widely acknowledged within the hockey fraternity as been the leaders in the development of young players.

The mighty nation of Hungary is being represented by the well known team of Rosco Budapest who has been competing in the European scene since 1994. Rosco will be travelling to Malta with lots of experience and an average age of 33years. Croatia is represented by HK Zelina. 2006 saw the Croatian side relegated from the Trophy tournament and now they are coming to Malta hungry for revenge and a quick return to the higher division. Most of the Zelina players are national team players and have been preparing for months for the 18th BDO Cup Winners Challenge while in Finland, the team preparing for the tournament is Seinajoki United, a little know team who in 2006 surprised everyone by winning the Finnish Cup.

Sliema Hotsticks; will be competing for the first time ever in a European Competition and the second Maltese side to do so after Rabat Depiro in 2003. Sliema have a mix of experience in their ranks with veteran players and national team players forming part of their first eleven.
The teams are divided into two groups. Group A will see HK Zelina, Rosco Budapest, RCOR-MIF Minsk and Cardiff University while Group B pits Eagles HC, Seinajoki United, Slagelse HC and Sliema Hotsticks. The 2 top teams of each group will be playing against each other on Sunday 8th April for promotion to the Trophy Tournament.

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