By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey
We have seen hockey being played in places where you never taught hockey would excited , but Ryan Bahl is going where hockey has never gone to the Antarctica. Ryan is trying to be the first human to play hockey on all 7 continents. We caught up with Ryan to se how is quest is going so far.
When did you start thinking of this crazy idea of playing Hockey in the Antarctica?
Actually, the first time I stepped foot on the ice in South America in (July of 2015) I was already thinking of where I’d play next. The next and obvious choice was the last remaining continent of Antarctica. I already had a contract lined up to go play in Turkey that following year so I honestly didn’t think about it much after that until about January of 2016 when I got back home. I started talking with some of my friends down at the world’s end in Chile, Argentina and the Falklands and quickly realized this was definitely very possible. During this entire time I was in contact with The Hockey News who were in the process of writing an article about me and my travels and my contact there seemed extra excited at the thought of hockey in Antarctica. The article came out in March and was really the first time anything had been publicly announced about playing hockey in Antarctica. After that I launched the website, social media pages and other material in about mid-May and we have been insanely busy since then.
Where in the Antarctica are you planning to play?
We’re in the process of figuring out some of the logistics and speaking with the right people. I can’t say too much here quite yet, except that we will definitely be getting to Antarctica no matter what it takes. There is just a lot that goes into planning this, obtaining permits, being especially weary of the ecology of the area, containment of the ecosystems and much, much more.
Do you have transportation to get to Antarctica?
Yes, the particular location that we are trying to finalize details on actually only does transportation via ships. We are working with a few people in the Falklands on some possibilities here and without the official “OK” (which we are currently working on) we just haven’t booked anything for sure yet.
I have to assume there are many challenges, Can you highlight some of them that you have encounter during the planning stages?
It’s definitely been a lot more work than I thought it would be and a lot harder than I thought. Originally I thought I could just throw some boots on and skate around a bit but it’s evolved into much more and many more people are wanting to be a part of this. At the moment the biggest challenge is just the logistics and getting the “OK” for the event to take place in our desired location. I truly believe a lot of the sponsors, funding and other things will fall into place as soon as we get an official notice of approval. Besides the logistics we are mainly working out the business and marketing plans right now trying to get those live. As soon as those are live we will be blasting it to all of our contacts, potential sponsors, partners and pretty much anyone we can think of. This is mainly so people can get involved to that extra level, get their company’s logo on our jerseys or whatever else they want to do. We also have a lot of businesses that are waiting on us to get some of this information to them so I’m very confident things will be even busier for us here soon.
What type of weather condition do you expect when you get to the South Pole?
Since we need the weather to be cold enough to sustain ice and freeze to make the rink we are needing to go down during the beginning or towards the end of winter. The heart of winter is too cold and conditions get too harsh so travel to most of Antarctica halts during this time. We are working with our logistics and contacts down in that part of the world to figure out a happy medium – one that makes it possible for us to travel and a condition cold enough to freeze the rink.
Where is funding and sponsorship coming from?
tThe only things we are really promoting right now are the GoFundMe.com/antarctichockey and our jersey sales. As soon as our business and marketing plans are finished (probably mid-August) we will be moving ahead full steam in terms of getting sponsors and partners. Our packages will be very unique and offer something really “cool” (no pun intended) for businesses to do in sponsoring this historical event. For individuals wanting to help out I would love for them to donate whatever they can on the GoFundMe account and leave us a message. For individuals the other pretty cool thing to do is buy a jersey or two so they can wear them around the rink – they are great conversational pieces and everyone will ask you “what’s the deal with the Antarctic Hockey jersey?”. For businesses wanting to get involved I would love if they could just reach out to us through the website (www.antarctichockey.com) and as soon as our business information is available we will send it their way.
How many people have sign up to play hockey with you?
We have had 350 player sign ups on our website and now are close to about 1,100 likes. We are still sorting out the number of actual players we can take to the event and won’t know this until the new year, unfortunately. With that being said though, I don’t want to discourage people signing up. If you have the slightest interest in finding out more about the event or are curious on how you can help – SIGN UP. We reach out to every single person that signs up personally to let them know how they can help and different ways they can be selected to come play with us in this event. One of the best things about all of this is that our business plan is set up to make it so that this event can be hosted many times again in the future if everything is successful. We want to get this first event done first but moving forward we think this can be something that is done many more time.
Outside of setting a world record of being the only person to play hockey on all the continents what else are you hoping to accomplish from playing this hockey game?
Great question! When I originally started this I will admit it was a bit selfish in that I was mostly aimed towards accomplishing that record. As people started contacting me and as I started speaking with people we’ve developed two main things are trying to promote. The first is just showing people that you can literally play hockey anywhere in the world, experience new cultures, meet new people and you can do all of this through our amazing sport of hockey. I think too many people get stuck in their ways and never really experience everything that the world has to offer. This event is a perfect example of this in that we’ve already had people sign up from over 20 different countries. Imagine the diversity of the event if we took one person from each of these different countries, we’ve had people sign up from (just to name a few): USA, Canada, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Finland, Australia, Ireland, Lithuania, Germany, France, Iceland, the Czech Republic and many more. The second main thing are trying to promote and bring awareness to is the conservation of fragile environments like Antarctica. Without conservation and protecting these fragile ecosystems future generations might not have the same opportunities to play our spot outdoors or in amazing places like Antarctica. Hockey, in it’s purest form, was developed and played out door and we want to ensure that we are doing our part to help our planet and protecting the environment. We will be donating portions of our funding to helping with environment conservation organizations and using all organic materials during the event to keep out blue print to a bare minimum.
Who came up with the 2017 Antarctica Ice Hockey Team Logo and Jersey’s?
The logo itself as actually a collaboration between me and my dad. My dad did a lot of the actual designing and sent me at least a dozen mock ups before I choose the one you see. I had a few people reach out about helping with the jerseys and ultimately we decided to go with The Jersey Lab (the current jerseys you see). I think they did a really great job of doing something a little different than the standard traditional jerseys. I had a few people reach out and provide mock ups for more traditional jerseys as well but I thought that this event in itself is a little more unconventional so the jerseys really need to match that and be “out there”. The Jersey Lab also did a great job of adding a custom builder to our website where you can go and customize pretty much everything you want on the jersey and order it right on the spot. If people want to get a jersey for themselves they can just go to the home page of our website and they are available there. They are a great conversational piece and if you were them to local shinny or beer league games people are guaranteed to ask you what it’s about. Game worn jerseys will be slightly different as we will need to add sponsors and partner’s logos to them, but overall, they should be fairly similar.
You went down to Chile earlier this month and played in the Copa Inverada with the Falklands Islands How did that go?
It’s always a great time with those guys! I was lucky enough to play with them last year in their inaugural ice hockey appearance as the first time their nation played in an official game as well as the smallest nation to play hockey. My wife and I were considering a few other trips this summer but this was her first time to South America and we really wanted to work out some of the connections and logistics of our Antarctic event. Besides having some fun and playing hockey we were able to talk with a lot of our friends (and new friends) down there and arrange a bunch of connections for making this Antarctic Hockey event possible for next year. Like I mentioned earlier, we are still working out a lot exact details, but I am very confident that with this great group of people we will make this event a huge success. The Falklands are a great community of people and if everything falls into place we will be donating our rink that we are using for the Antarctica event to them after we are done. This is mainly so they can develop as a hockey country and start playing ice hockey in their small country. In having a rink in the area it also means it will be a lot easier for us to run hockey events in Antarctica more often and give more people this amazing opportunity. It’s all about expanding the reach of the game and if we can promote that in a small country like the Falklands or do something unique in Antarctica to gain attention and popularity in the sport – we’ve done our job.
What is next for you after the Antarctica game is over?
I think we’ve talked about this jokingly, but I’m not totally against starting Space Hockey or Moon Hockey. We will see how things go after Antarctica.