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It was March 21, 2012, when India won its first ever ice hockey game against Macau. With a definitive win and a score of 5-1 in IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia played on home turf in Dehradun, the win came as a surprise for the Indian team. Lack of facilities, however, pose multiple challenges to the aspiring ice hockey players in the country. In order to boost the morale of these aspiring players, Iskate in Ambiance Mall, Gurgaon Under 20 National Ice Hockey Championship 2014 that witnessed participation from teams across the country – Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Ladakh and Uttrakhand.

In conversation with Akshay Kumar, Director, Ice Hockey Association of India for the third edition of tournament in the recently concluded tournament sheds light on the present condition of Ice Hockey players, its future and challenges that aspiring players face.

Why was an indoor ice rank preferred in Gurgaon while the tournament could have also been hosted in Ladakh or Shimla?

Till date, we have only one ice rink available in Dehradun that is of international standards. Unfortunately the government of Uttarakhand has been unable to maintain the rink and it has been shut since the last four years. We lack infrastructure. We are limited to the game till 2 months a year. Forcefully, we made an attempt this time to move out to a venue like Istake, Gurgaon. This is smaller than international sized ice rink which is why we played a four-on-four format instead of six. But we can at least play here, when there is no ice anywhere else in India. The only thing in Ladakh, where we have natural surface, is that the season is very limited. If you’re lucky we get a season of two full months. Normally we get a season of 1-1.5 months. We need to finish many tasks including coaching, programmes, training, coaching, selection and tournaments in that brief span of time. On the other hand, Shimla used to be a very big center for ice hockey till about 10-12 years ago. Due to global warming, the ice rink in Shimla is available only for 2 weeks in a year, that too if we are lucky.

What kind of improvements in the infrastructure would make it easier for you to organize such tournaments in India more often?

If you see USA, they have 3,000 ice rinks and they can play all throughout the year. Canada has 4,000 ice rinks. Russia has more than 25,00 ice rinks. Sweden, Denmark and all other Scandinavian countries have ice rinks in huge numbers. And they run all throughout a year. But, then you have countries like Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Dubai where the indoor ice rinks are operational throughout the year. Infact, Kuwait is hosting this year’s ice hockey Challenge cup of Asia which is due in April. If we have couple of international sized ice rinks in India, I think it would be easier to organise such tournaments here. Gurgaon rink is currently one of the bigger ice rinks available as compared to other metro cities.

What we need is an international sized indoor rink with 60 by 30 meters, with a seating facility for at least 1,500 people. They can keep the rink running with ice events, curling, figures staking and other activities. So at the moment, if we have international sized rink, we can guarantee we could organise 4-5 international events a year.

How serious are the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Ministry of Sports to promote and develop Ice Hockey in India?

Currently the sports ministry is only able to give us some level of support for organising the national championships. We got an amount worth Rs 1 lakh to organise the championship. If we do a championship in Ladakh, only the travel expenses would be more than Rs 5-6 lakh to fly there. So the support that we are getting is as good as not being there. We want help in coaching, equipment and training. However, they have plans to make full sized rink in Delhi. That is what we have been told. If that happens, the future will be brighter.

How do you rate Indian players on a global scale?

If you look at the players playing within India, they are fast and fit and have a great stamina. Internationally I would say, among the Asian teams, we are somewhere in the middle. Internationally, we don't figure anywhere. The international players practice for 365 days a year. For us to train as much, we need better infrastructure.

How soon would we see Team India representing the nation in world tournaments?

We are not in hurry to launch Indian players for bigger tournaments. It’s a conscious decision not to fight in Olympics at this moment, even though we got an opportunity to fight last time. Because currently our standard is not at par with the international players. Within the next ten years we will make it to the Olympics. We would fight the youth Olympics before that.


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Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice. 
over the years Ice Hockey as grown and is still growing all over the world. On this website you find Video Hi-lites of International Games, Ice hockey News, National Team Records, All Time Results, Scores, Schedule to upcoming games and all International Tournaments from around the world.
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We want to thank some people who have contributed to our website over the years.

Danny Laflamme (Montreal, Canada)
Gilberto Prioste (Toronto, Canada)
Mirc & Mario Hric (mmdresy.nhladdons.info, Slovakia)
Mark Cruickshank (roonba.com, Great Britain)

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