The 2013 World Police and Fire Games have started in Belfast with the preliminary rounds in the ice hockey tournament, which are being played at the Odyssey Arena. Day One of my week as a WPFG volunteer was taken up with meeting other members of the team including the event controllers and the other volunteers. The Odyssey staff were also very helpful and I am now more familiar with the layout of the complex.
There were three games at the venue today, starting at 3pm. Reykjavik Ice Falcons from Iceland took on the UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados and ran out 6-2 winners. The second game saw North America Blue defeat Las Vegas Guns and Hoses (among them sharpshooter Kimberly Harper, pictured above) by 5-3. Kim is a patrol deputy with Bonner County Sheriff’s Office in Las Vegas.
The crowd which had been around 500 for the first two games almost doubled when the local team NI Tridents took to the ice against Toronto Courts. The Canadians were a much stronger outfit and there was a great cheer from the crowd when the Tridents scored their first goal in the second period, when they were trailing well behind. Toronto won 11-3 but it was a gutsy performance by our local representatives who will be back in action on Saturday at 11am against SW Finland Emergency Services. Anyone who wants to watch can come along. Entrance is FREE. So get behind the Tridents!
One of the jobs I found myself doing was to meet the games patron Dame Mary Peters as she arrived to see the NI Tridents in action. ‘Thank you for volunteering’ was her message to myself and a colleague at the entrance. Other important guests included the First Minister Peter Robinson and the Northern Ireland Minister for Culture Carál Ní Chuilín.
Mr Robinson said he was proud to have such an event in Northern Ireland. In an interview with BBC News he said: “It has been a long time in the planning indeed for the lads who are out on the ice at the moment, three years they’ve been working up to this, so this is the pinnacle for them, at a top class event, to be able to participate and it’s the start of a whole long period of top class events.” Ms Ní Chuilín said there would be something at the games for everyone. “It’s mostly free and that’s what it’s about,” she told reporter Chris Buckler. I will be back at the Odyssey complex tomorrow afternoon.