It’s early morning in a Postbus in Biel. There’s a wintry chill in the air and it’s picture-perfect weather. The little ‘Lyss Lions’ look half asleep, freezing in the cold morning temperatures. The mood suddenly changes as soon as the Postbus sets off. They’re heading for Saint-Imier where the finals of the PostFinance Trophy are being held. Over 2,000 children were there to watch Switzerland’s biggest ice hockey competition for school pupils. Around 160 made it through to the finals.
The finals of the PostFinance Trophy 2019
Joy and despair, victory and defeat, sporting passion and inspiring team spirit. Emotions do not run as high anywhere else as they do in sport. The finals of the PostFinance Trophy from February 24, 2019 ensured a host of different sporting emotions. The superbly organized event enthralled both young and old ice hockey fans alike.
Ice hockey helps motivate and build self-confidence
The nervous tension on the bus is ratcheted up with every kilometre that goes by. The excitement reaches another level when a real ice hockey professional suddenly steps onto their Postbus: Flurin Randegger from the SCL Tigers accompanies the ice hockey youngsters to their big match in person. The six and seven year-olds now feel almost like professionals themselves – they’re on edge, excited and can barely sit still in their seats. Some have a clear goal in mind: “We’ve been looking forward to the finals for a long time. We want a trophy. After all, we won every game in the previous stage,” explained Ernesto Zahnd, confident of victory. His teammates nod in agreement. But the coach immediately puts things into perspective: “Having fun is what counts.” As their trainer, Daniel Zahnd knows that a stiff challenge lies ahead. They all play for an ice hockey club, but not the same one. They’re also very young and have little experience of tournaments. We don’t want to take the excitement away from the youngsters, as healthy ambition is also important in sport.
Ice hockey means zest for life
At Saint-Imier we meet another team that has reached the finals tournament – the ‘HC Fideris Capitals’. They gleefully tell of two victories they had already secured that morning. The youngsters are playing in category A and are all in fifth or sixth grade at school. Only one player in the team has an ice hockey licence in line with tournament rules. The project, which aims to promote sport, is ultimately not all about elite performance, but rather making ice hockey appealing to children. The licensed player puts a team together with the help of a coach. Jovin Tscharner enjoyed good fortune in his search, finding teammates who enjoy and are good at ice skating, and who also know how to use a stick from playing floorball or have good fitness levels because they’re football players. “I didn’t take much persuading,’ smiled Leandro Monzon. “I was on board straight away. We’ve had so much fun and we’re a fantastic team. It doesn’t really matter if you’re not the greatest ice hockey player as nobody plays at club level apart from Jovin,” beamed the likeable youngster from Graubünden before disappearing for the interval with a grin. They can take a relaxed approach to their third group match as they’ve already secured a place in the final.
Ice hockey – a lesson in life
It’s not going quite as well for the “Bambini”. They have suffered one defeat after another. Even the valuable advice from the national team coach Patrick Fischer may not be enough to turn the tide. Two defeats now have to be digested which means the coach is going to have to work miracles. “Don’t give up,” he tells the boys encouragingly. “Well played,” he shouts, praising every attack and defensive play. The ‘Lyss Lions’ nevertheless fail to pick up any points in their third match either. The coach is once again needed. Tears are dried, a word of encouragement is given here and an inspiring gesture there, as Daniel knows that the boys have one more match to play and the chance to secure third place in the group in the play-off match.
Setbacks are character-building. You get knocked down and you get up again. Chin up and carry on fighting. The young ice hockey fans impressively show that these are not just empty phrases for them – they give their all again in the final match. The little lions become real kings of the jungle. They battle for every point and do not shy away from any challenge. They get knocked down and they get back up again. They fight tooth and nail until the final whistle. It’s wasn’t enough to secure victory this time either though, but it wins them appreciative praise from the coach and whole-hearted applause from their travelling fans. There was one special moment that nobody can take away from the team – an autograph session with National League players, including Philippe Furrer from HC Fribourg-Gottéron and André Heim from SC Bern.
What really matters is enjoying playing ice hockey together.
A trophy was the aim – and at the end the ‘Lyss Lions’ also hold one proudly aloft. During the award ceremony, the youngsters are once again filled with unrestrained, child-like joy. Their own trophy might not be quite as big as the winner’s trophy, but it gleams just as brightly. It’s sure to be given pride of place in the ice arena as a reminder of their well-deserved qualification for the finals. The ice hockey team from Fideris are presented with the winner’s trophy in category A. Not only did they emerge triumphant in all three group matches, they also put in a masterly performance in the grand final.
There’s a fine line between joy and despair in sport. But coach Daniel Zahnd summed it up in a nutshell earlier that morning: “It’s not just winning that matters. It’s great just to take part, build team spirit and enjoy playing ice hockey together.” The wonderful thing about ice hockey is that there’s always another chance to succeed, as the scoreboard is always reset to 0:0 at the start of the next match. Life goes on the same after the trophy as it did before.