„I would like to study here,“ said many students – hockey players who came with their team to play a game in the European University Hockey League (EUHL) in Győr, Hungary.
An impressive campus with a large number of possibilities not only for studies and sports, but also for entertainment, attracted young players to the university. Thanks to this, UNI GYŐR ETO HC is part of the EUHL, where it competes with university students from other cities and European countries.
Beginnings in Győr
„Two or three years ago, after the experience with the fusion within the young B-team Titans from Székesfehervár, it was said in Győr that it would be good to gradually create an own men’s team. The second merger with Vasas Budapest came within the ETO HC club. That didn’t work either. We looked for options further. A great job was done by the management of the club, József Bartalis and Zoltán Szarvas, together with colleagues at Széchenyi University and especially the head of the Department of Physical Education Dr. Tamás Dőmorei, who is a university teacher at this university and is in charge of the sports side.
I suggested EUHL to them. They took it. Last year, we traveled to Trenčín a few times to see the EUHA, which is the governing body of the EUHL, held a pilot hockey tournament for existing EUHL teams, where we tested it. After all, the city of Győr has an ideal geographical location vis-a-vis Slovakia. Located in the western part of the country, it is dynamic, developing, suitable for young families and university students. The city center reminds me of historical Bratislava. It is also an academic city – something like our Trnava or Prešov. We considered the possibility of merging with the local university, so that our students, juniors, graduates would have the possibility to play somewhere over the time. This is how the idea of finally creating an own men’s team that would not operate in the highest competition was born. We didn’t want that. The idea of combining these matters with the EUHL and with the second highest – non‑professional Andersen League was very convenient for us,“ revealed Igor Tóth about the beginnings of university hockey in Győr.
The idea was born, the next step was the process of acquiring students who would choose the aforementioned Győr. „The team was not born easily. In the beginning, there weren’t even many students who would create such a team. There were maybe six or seven of them. But the university had the task of creating scholarship programs, the promotion of the EUHL took place all last season in advance, so it was conceptually worked on. The manager, Péter Boros, and the player and young coming coach, Matej Odnoga, did a lot of work in scouting all over Hungary in the summer. Day by day, new students – players joined us, but students from other universities also play with us. They shuttle to the training sessions. In this way, we managed to bring together boys who want to progress in the dual sphere – that is, both in education and in the opportunity to play hockey. We are learning as we go,“ continued Tóth, who works as the club’s sports director and at the same time as a mentor coach for the EUHL in Győr.
Széchenyi University is a private technical university. It can be particularly proud of its focus on the engineering and automotive industry, which is popular and sought after by hockey players. „The university is closely connected to an international plant for the production of well-known cars. This college would very much like to have foreign, English-studying students – hockey players from Canada and the USA, as well as Europe, who would become traffic engineers. At the same time, the school dually prepares domestic students for the future, they receive scholarships for school performance and for completed work experience at a car manufacturing plant. The best ones can participate in production,“ Tóth explained.
But young players are also attracted by the excellent infrastructure and opportunities for the training process that are available here. „The infrastructure in Győr is one of the best in all of Hungary. From the point of view of the possibility to develop in terms of hockey, there are three covered ice surfaces – two large and one smaller, so-called Swedish one (14x28m). Since we have enough space, we also have enough training options. Plus there is equipment like a new gym, or warm-up room, shooting range and skatemill, video room. The team trains five times a week on the ice. I am not saying that all players attend all five practices a week; it depends on the degree program and how their university is set up,” he continued.
Satisfied with the quality of games
Győr’s players have already played several games within the EUHL, so it is possible to express their initial impressions of the opponents, and of the level of the league as such. „I was pleasantly surprised by the game we played first in Nitra and also against the current champion from Trenčín. The Győr hockey players kept up with the home Gladiators for more than 50 minutes. We had a very responsible preparation for this first game. It was a great challenge and also an opportunity to make the university and players visible outside the country. The local players appreciate it and are motivated at the same time. I think that the quality of these games is very good. It is played quite decently and intensely. The opponents are playing great combined hockey,“ added satisfied Tóth at the end.
Teams from Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania are active in the EUHL transnational university competition in the current year.
Photo: Dr. Krisztina Németh-Csigai (UNI GYŐR ETO HC)