Following the EBYSL and EBJL junior leagues, EBEL has another project coming in late March intended for the development of young hockey players in the region. EBEL has been working together with several clubs including Medvescak for the past year at developing a European U16 Rookie Cup, and the European Union has finally given the project the green light.
''This is the firsts time in the world of hockey that a hockey organization has received support and patronage from the EU. The EU will co-finance the project by covering eighty percent of tournament costs for a period of three years'', said Medvescak’s director of hockey operations Markoantonio Belinic, who is also on EBEL’s development committee.
The European Rookie Cup will see its first edition already this season. Taking part will be four clubs from Austria, four from Hungary, three from Slovenia, two from Italy, and one from Germany, Croatia, and Bosnia. The first part of the tournament, the playoff rounds, will be played in late March in Munich, Kaposvar, Ljubljana, and St. Polten. It will be held in Munich and Kaposvar from March 19-22, and in Ljubljana and St. Polten from March 26-29. Everyone will go up against everyone, and the team that gets the most points in each of those playoff rounds will make it to the final round. The final round, in which teams will compete for the European Rookie Cup, will be played in Salzburg April 10-12.
''Medvescak will be in the group that plays in Ljubljana’s Tivoli venue and Slavija, and their opponents will be Slovenia’s Slavija, Austria’s Villach, and Hungary’s MAC. Just like for EBYSL and EBJL, the team will be made up the best players from all three of Zagreb’s clubs Mladost, Zagreb, and Medvescak. However, unlike the U20 and U18 where every team could have a number of older players on its roster, that won’t be the case at the European Rookie Cup. The team can only have players born in ’99 or later. Next week we will have a meeting to decide who will take over the coaching position, we will develop a program for preparations, and decide which players will play in the cup. That will be a reward for their achievements and effort that they put in this season.''
Since EBEL’s goal with this project wasn’t just to inspire children to get involved in sports to be healthy, but also to teach them important things related to sports and beyond.
''Thanks to this tournament, players will see what pro sports mean, from entering the venue, to warming up and game preparations, how to carry themselves with wins and losses, and to understand that losing doesn't mean you are worse than your opponents and that next season you can be the winner. Throughout the tournament the players will have forty-five minute to one hour lessons to teach them what it means to be a pro athlete and everything that entails. Of course, there will also be a survey that players will have to fill out to see if they have understood what pro sports mean'', said Belinic.