By George Da Silva – National Teams of Ice Hockey
We had the great pleasure to talked to the Captain of Camel Rapperswil-Jona and also the first captain of the Iranian National Ice Hockey Team Shahryar Amini.
Was ice hockey your first choice of sports when you were growing up?
Well actually no. I started with soccer when I was 9rowing up. Ice hockey is not that cheap and easy in Switzerland when you have a single mom.
It takes up a lot of time and costs a lot – so I went to hockey when I was 13 and learned everything on my own.
Outside from yourself you do you credit for helping you learn the game of ice hockey?
I have been playing for 23 years Ice Hockey and still playing at the Swiss Regio League for EHC Rapperswil Jona Camel and EHC Rapperswil Jona II and also in a fun team for Züri Wizards.
During summer I’m playing for Wetzikon Sharks Inlinehockey and maybe will change this year to Switzerland 2nd highest league.
Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that Iran would have a national team and how did you find out about Iran hockey?
To be honest I wished for it for so many years, but never thought it would happen or that I could be a part of it. Actually I saw a flyer. They were looking for players during
the inline hockey world championship in Asiago. Funnily I only saw it because they played against Switzerland (some friends play for the Swiss National Team).
When did you find out that you were going to be named captain of the first Ice hockey team from Iran and what did it mean to you?
That was right before the games, February 1st I think. It means a lot to me. To be the captain of the 1st national ice hockey team – that’s the greatest honour you could ever get. My mum was so proud when she heard about that.
When preparing for the Asian Winter Games Iran had two camps In Kazakhstan and Italy. How did those camps go and how many people showed up?
Actually we had three camps. First Asiago right after the Inline Hockey Games, then Kazakhstan and in the end in Dubai. I think we always were about 15 players.
It went really well. The Iranian players learned soooo fast. Jalal Keyhanfar wasn’t on the ice once before in his life and now he’s one of our fastest skaters – that’s unbelievable.
All the Iranian players made a huge step forward. I mean they never played on ice before except Farzad Houshidari, who’s also a world class Inline Hockey Player.
Iran was disqualified from the Asian Winter Games, can you tell us what happened in Sapporo, Japan?
Well, we got the accreditation of all our players in November. 1 day before we arrived in Sapporo we heard about some issues regarding our players. There was a protest from another team, saying we have too many foreign players. No one from our Olympic Committee knew that the IOC changed the rule after the Winter Games in Kazakhstan. So the rule is that all athletes have to be born in Asia or have lived at least 3 years in their country. So based on that, 13 players of our team are not allowed to play – that’s fact. The time of telling us what the issue is, wasn’t really nice and fair though. We couldn’t react. We couldn’t get any documents of the players on time and not even report new players. So two days before the games started, Iran was disqualified from the games because we didn’t have enough allowed players (15 players, 2 goalkeepers)
If Iran were to take part in another major ice hockey tournament, what things will Iran do to prevent what happened in Sapporo, Japan?
Read all the rules thoroughly for sure, getting all the documents ready and be prepared for any issues regarding our players.
Seeing the camps and playing in friendlies with the national team, how would you rate the talent level in Iran?
We are going to have a huge future. I mean Samson Mahbod is a KHL player, we have a bunch of other good and young players, like Jeramy Rezaeepour, Benjamin Ghaffari (Goalkeeper), Hamid Gharaee. (highest Junior Level in Switzerland – he’s only 17). It’s also going to be a big inspiration for people in Iran to start playing ice hockey.
What is next for Iran ice hockey, will there be a ice hockey league in the country for local players to play in?
Yes for sure, otherwise we do not get a membership of the IIHF. Ice Rinks are already planned.
When do you think Iran will apply for IIHF membership?
We already did, we just have to wait for the official conference in May.
Can you watch NHL on Iranian TV?
I think they do over VPN connection etc. but I can’t say for sure, as I live in Switzerland.
After the Sapporo experience what is next for you in terms of ice hockey?
I think everybody still has to digest what happened in Sapporo. I’m 100% sure we would win gold with our roster. After everyone calmed down and built up new energy we are going to prepare for the World Roller Games in China. The hockey season on ice is over now so we have time to make plans for 2017/18. Our team head Kaveh Sedghi put a lot of effort and energy to build up everything. I think we will sit together with Coach Christian Müller from Germany in a while and make plans to start a new chapter of Iran’s version of miracle on ice. We are still One Team One Dream – making hockey big in Iran.
Who is your favorite ice hockey player past or present?
Well as a longtime Pens fan definitely Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.