Category: Asia (page 1 of 15)

Women’s Ice hockey team tuning up for Challenge Cup of Asia

Forty Women at selection camp in Iran

Source: Iran Skating Federation

According to the Ice Skating Federation of Iran, the Iran’s women’s ice hockey team started the camp for the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.

The event will be held in Manilla, Philippines in May 2021.

According to the public relations of the Iran Skating Federation said that  ice hockey women athletes have passed the first stage of their selection camp to participate at IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Manilla.

Forty athletes from the provinces of Tehran, Tehran County, Eslamshahr County , Qods County, Ray County and Pakdasht County  attended and the techniques, tactics and skills of skating were held The athletes were evaluated under the supervision of the technical staff of the national ice hockey team, and the names of those invited to the next stage will be announced through the official website of the Skating Federation.

The first stage of the selection camp for men’s ice hockey players to participate in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia., which will be held in Singapore in May 2021, will be held on Wednesday, September 26, 2020

The purpose of the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia is to provide competitive opportunities for Asian teams that are either in the lower divisions of the IIHF World Championships or did not compete in any IIHF World Championships.

The first women’s tournament took place in Shanghai, China from April 10 to 14, 2010.

Skate away the winter blues

By Stephanie Lilly – Chao Hanoi

For those who fancy trying out a winter activity in Hanoi, ice skating perfectly fits the bill.

Winter is well and truly here, and for those hailing from colder countries a big part of the season is putting on a pair of skates and gliding across frozen water– or ice as we like to call it. In a country where winter does not come close to freezing, what hope is there for frozen lakes and ponds for people to indulge in the nostalgic activity of ice skating? Believe it or not, the Vietnamese love to skate as much as anyone else, well, nearly. For those keen to give it a try, the Royal City Vincom Mega Mall in Hanoi is an ideal place to give it a spin.

Aside from shopping, the giant mall has an assortment of activities including a large indoor skating rink. Launched in the summer of 2013, the ice rink provides a great way to scratch that winter itch.

After entering the mall, follow the little skates symbol seen throughout the mall until you come upon the giant ice skating rink; you can’t miss it.

It costs 220,000 VND per adult (though is cheaper outside the weekends) and an additional 50,000 VND for skate rental. There are also penguins, dolphins and other animals with seats and handles for children or adults who are a little out of practice and need some support on the slippery ice.

Weekends tend to be busier, but if you make it on a weekday you may have the entire rink to yourself, ideal for working on those rusty spins, loops and axels. Or maybe just to fall over without anybody looking! If you are scared of following you can pay for a chaperone to guide you across the ice. Sometimes events such as skating competitions, a local Hanoi hockey league, or even EDM dance parties are held at the rink.

Hockey players are not to be messed with. Photo courtesy of Hanoi Hockey.

Take your family, go with a group of friends or invite your crush to enjoy a wholesome winter activity. If skating is not your bag do not not fear, this mall is “mega” for a good reason, a huge selection of activities are on offer including bowling, arcades, a cinema and a solid selection of restaurants serving hot food, bubble tea, ice cream and more.

Ice hockey’s fascinating story in Israel with the man who started it

An Israeli hockey league game at the rink in Holon, near Tel Aviv. (Facebook)

By Joseph Wolkin –  World Israel News

Most just saw a tiny rink but Shindman had a vision.

Ice hockey in a Mediterranean climate? Most people would throw up their hands and head to the beach. Not Paul Shindman. The Canadian ex-pat who made aliyah, or immigrated, to Israel in 1987, may have left behind his home country but not his love of hockey.

Shindman was inspired in the late 1980s by Israel’s first ice skating rink in Kiryat Motzkin. Most just saw a tiny rink but Shindman had a vision.

He got a job working for rink owner Asher Farkas, helping build the second, bigger rink in Bat Yam that featured a floor cleaner converted to serve as a Zamboni. His initiative to collect hockey equipment and start a league got a boost thanks to a group of Canadian soldiers stationed in Israel at the time.

One can say Shindman’s dream came true. Ice hockey is flourishing in Israel. The country is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), and the sport is considered to be one of the most popular during the Maccabiah Games.

“The ice rink [in Kiryat Motzkin] wasn’t huge. It felt about the size of a big living room and dining room combined. But it was a rectangular shape with round corners, and you could play hockey on it. We started playing three-on-three, and I started collecting equipment. I asked people to bring donations, like pads, sticks, when they came to visit Israel.

Israel ice hockey pioneer Paul Shindman at the new ice rink in Tnuvot, near Netanya

“By the end of 1988, I had enough equipment. I started recruiting guys, mostly by word of mouth. I put an ad in the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel monthly newsletter, and I found a couple of guys that way. We started a four-team league.

“In 1989, we had the first experimental season in Bat Yam, with four teams – Jerusalem, Netanya, Bat Yam and Haifa. They played a double-round round-robin. The first game would finish and the guys would take off the equipment to give it to the guys for the next game.

“It was on a dinky rink. What happened was, the rink owners hired me because I’m great at mechanical engineering. I’m a hockey player and coach, so I was going to be their adviser. But they surrounded the rink with plate glass windows. After we shattered two of them, they decided to get sheets of plexiglass with little grommet holes. Before every game, we’d go around and hang these sheets of plexiglass to protect them from getting shattered.

“At the time, I was in touch with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Skating Union because we started a nonprofit, originally called the Israel Ice Hockey and Figure Skating Association. There were less than 100 athletes. We registered, and I turned to the IIHF and they said the qualifications to join the IIHF are, ‘You need a full-size rink and an official recognition from your national Olympic committee that you are the representative body for the sport.’

“I turned to the Olympic committee, and they basically laughed and said don’t waste our time. The major event that really got us started was when I got a call from the liaison person who was handling the rest and relaxation for the Canadian Peacekeeping troops. Canada, at the time, had a couple of hundred peacekeepers in the Golan Heights. They heard there was ice in Israel, so they had equipment sent over. They wanted to have an exhibition game, which was in February 1990.

“We got blue and white hockey sweaters made, and we had Team Israel versus Team Canada. I invited the mayor of Bat Yam, the general manager of the Israel Olympic Committee, who knew the mayor, and we invited the ambassador of Canada to do the official puck drop. This tiny rink was packed with 200 to 300 people.”

“The entire staff of the Canadian Embassy came out to cheer. We did the whole shebang with national anthems, gift exchange and the like, and the Canadians clobbered us, 20-2. It was bizarre, but the Israel Olympic Committee saw we were for real, gave us a letter and I turned back to the IIHF and, in 1991, Israel became a member.”

What’s been the biggest challenge for ice hockey in Israel since then?

“The biggest challenge for many years was there wasn’t enough ice. All of the rinks in the center of the country were tiny. There were about 10 different rinks that opened and closed.

“The Olympic rink opened in 1994 in Metulla on the Lebanese border, and that story is a book in itself. So, to play full hockey, you had to go to Metulla, which is about a three hour drive from the center of the country.

“About seven years ago, an Israeli entrepreneur built a large rink in Holon, which is just outside of Tel Aviv. You can play four-on-four full-rink hockey with blue lines. It’s a shortish, narrowish rink, about two-thirds the size of a full rink. But you can have real games. Suddenly, Metulla became second fiddle. You’d go up once a month to Metulla, but you played all of your hockey in Holon.

“Pavel Levin, father of ice hockey player David Levin, is a roller hockey coach. He got investors and built an NHL-size rink in the moshav called Tnuvot, which opened last year near Netanya. Now, you can have a certified international tournaments near Tel Aviv. Israel now has two full-sized rinks and three you can play hockey. There’s a national senior league, junior league, kids leagues, non-contact leagues and several thousand people are playing hockey. What’s amazing is that Arab countries play hockey, too, mostly in the Gulf states.”

You hear about sports bringing Arabs and Jews together. How is that happening with ice hockey?

“There are some Israeli Arabs who play up north in Metulla. But the rinks aren’t near any Arab population centers. Arabs in Israel play a lot of roller hockey, but there hasn’t been a big move to get them on the ice yet. That really needs a hockey, Zionist philanthropic boost from somebody who can get them involved. There is interest. The big breakthrough, I think, is signing the peace treaty with the United Arab Emirates. They will hopefully get the OK to play ice hockey against Israel.

The UAE, Kuwait and the other Arab countries refuse to play Israel, and the IIHF understands that. Israel is grouped in Europe and the Gulf States are grouped in Asia. Now that there will be direct flights and full diplomatic relations, there’s no reason that the UAE can’t play games against Israel.”

What would that mean for you to see that happen for Team Israel?

“Anytime Israelis compete against Arabs in any sport, it’s a big thing. Sports builds bridges. Sports is a stepping stone to peaceful relations, mutual understandings and communication between people. Unfortunately, the Islamic world weaponizes sports against Israel.”

You saw that with judo just a year ago with Sagi Muki.

“Judo is the prime example. It happens in other sports as well, including hockey, but at a low-key level. The international organization realizes the political reality and doesn’t group Arabs with Israel. Now with the UAE peace deal, there’s no reason not to. We’ll have to see where that goes.”

What’s the goal for hockey in Israel?

“My goal was to – I lived the Canadian-Jewish-Zionist dream – I made aliyah and played hockey in Israel. It doesn’t get better than that. We’re there. We’ve made it.”

Is there a potential to pursue an Olympic run?

“No, Israel is too small. The countries that make the Olympics have a bigger population, a much more northern location and a lot more resources than we do. We only have a few thousand people playing hockey with a few rinks. You can’t go out in the winter and skate in your backyard. You don’t get that ice time.

“There’s an Israeli kid, David Levin, when he was 12 years old, told his parents he wanted to move to Toronto to live with his aunt and uncle in order to play hockey. He moved to Canada and grew up playing there, becoming a top junior player and getting tryouts with a couple of NHL teams, but moving there was one of the reasons why he could make it.

“Israel in the Jewish Olympics? Yes. Ice hockey is already a Maccabiah sport… For the hockey final at the Maccabiah games in 2017, four Jewish NHL owners donated a rink to the City of Jerusalem. They set it up in the basketball arena Hapoel Jerusalem plays in. It was basically NHL size. They advertised the final, which was Canada versus USA. Six thousand people showed up to the final. Wayne Gretzky sent in a video greeting that they put on the scoreboard in between periods. It was the biggest event at the entire Maccabiah besides the opening ceremonies.”

Olympic throttling may stunt growth of China’s unexcited hockey ‘culture’

Kids carry team flags at a preseason game between Vancouver and L.A. in Beijing in 2017. Despite some flashy efforts by the NHL to drum up interest, there are only a few thousand players in the world’s most populous country

By Ed Willes – The Province

“The software, building a system, getting kids involved, getting them excited about the game, are the things that are missing. That’s sad for me because I love hockey in China. I really want to see it work.” — Former Montrealer Mark Simon, now living in China.

In September of 2017 the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings staged a two-game exhibition series in China that signaled the NHL’s initial attempt to establish itself and hockey in the world’s largest market.

Since that first exposure, the game has experienced incremental growth in China but it’s also failed to attract a larger audience or create widespread participation. In 2022 the Winter Olympics will be staged in Beijing and the NHL’s hope is the best-on-best tournament will engage this country of 1.4 billion while awakening it to the world’s fastest team sport.

That, at least, is the hope. But according to one hockey man who has spent more than a decade trying to grow hockey in China, the NHL, IIHF, the IOC, the NHLPA and all the game’s stakeholders are playing a dangerous game with the Olympics.

“I cringe at a lineup with (Connor) McDavid, (Nathan) MacKinnon and (Sidney) Crosby against these guys (on the Chinese men’s team) I know and I like,” said Mark Simon, the 41-year-old Montrealer who moved to China in 2007. “It won’t be a good outcome. If that happens three or four times, the question will be asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’

“You want to build hockey in the country. But why do we want games that won’t be competitive? Now it’s on the biggest stage in the world and it’s not China against Canada. It’s China against anyone.”

Simon can speak with some authority on this subject. Since moving to China, he’s had a front-row seat to watch the game’s development, and while there has been some growth, it’s largely been sporadic.

For starters there are about 8,800 registered players in China, 7,300 of whom are youth players. The good news is with 213 indoor rinks, ice time isn’t exactly a problem. The challenge is attracting more kids to the game to fill that ice time.

To that end, Simon has helped organize youth tournaments in Beijing and Shanghai, worked with the NHL in introducing a ball-hockey program to elementary schools and coached any number of youth teams while consulting with Kunlun Red Star, the China-based franchise in the KHL.

In that time he’s learned the problem in China isn’t infrastructure or resources. The problem is utilizing those resources to build a hockey culture.

“The way I break it down is hardware and software,” Simon said. “It’s easy to build a rink. That’s a hardware piece and, in general, hardware is easier in China.

“The software, building a system, getting kids involved, getting them excited about the game, are the things that are missing. That’s sad for me because I love hockey in China. I really want to see it work.”

Five years ago, it was hoped that Red Star would be the energizing force in building the Chinese game but, like the sport itself, the team has experienced many ups and downs in its brief history. Again, money hasn’t been the problem. Owner Billy Ngok, an industrialist who ranked 99th in The Hockey News 2019 Top-100 people of power in hockey, invested heavily in Red Star and Vanke Rays, an entry in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League based in Shenzhen.

When the CWHL folded in 2019, the Rays moved to Russia’s WHL where they won the league title in May.

Red Star, meanwhile, has led a nomadic existence since joining the KHL in 2016-17. It’s played games in Shanghai and Beijing. It was set to move into a permanent home in Beijing — the Shougang Arena at the Olympic site — but the COVID-19 pandemic altered that plan.

The team will now play just outside of Moscow for the 2020-21 KHL season that is scheduled to start in September.

It goes without saying that start date isn’t exactly etched in stone.

“You move back and forth and it’s hard to develop a fan base,” Simon said. “It’s not just marketing a team, you’re marketing a sport and 99 per cent of the market doesn’t know much about that sport.”

Simon has worked with Red Star and their GM Scott MacPherson, the former NHL scout. The hope is the KHL team — coached by, ta da, former Canuck Curt Fraser — will help form the nucleus of the Chinese men’s team in 2022 but, with the Olympic tournament less than two years away, the makeup of that team has yet to be determined.

There are currently about 15 players of Chinese ancestry playing in the KHL or VHL, the second-tier league that operates out of Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Those players include Maple Ridge’s Brandon Yip, the former Colorado Avalanche forward; Spencer Foo, the former Calgary Flames farmhand; and Victor Bartley, the former Nashville Predators defenceman. All three played with Red Star last season and Yip was the team’s captain.

Beyond that is another level of players with minor pro, junior or college experience. According to IIHF regulations, the Chinese heritage players have to play 16 consecutive months for their new country to qualify for the Olympics.

They also have to qualify for Chinese passports, which can be an arduous process and, if they’re successful, here’s the payoff: They’ll be in a group with the U.S., Canada and Germany in the Olympics.

“I love the idea of the Olympics and I try to be as balanced as I can in my opinions,” Simon said. “I just don’t think it’s the right spot for that country. For the success of the sport in China, how good will it look if the home team is throttled?”

That, we assume, is a rhetorical question.

The Budding Winter Sports Scene of Pakistan

There is immense potential to develop winter sports in Pakistan and the 2020 season was just the tip of the iceberg, says organizers

By Sonia Ashraf – Redbull,com

Winter sports and adventure sports events have been happening for some time now, but it was from the beginning of this year that word really started spreading about all the activities that are actually happening in Pakistan.

The season started with a range of skiing and snowboarding competitions held at Malam Jabba and Naltar – the two main ski resorts of the country.

The Hindukush Snow Sports Festival held in Chitral, along with the Snow Marathon and a Winter Sports Gala held in Malam Jabba were received with a lot of positivity by the attendees and the residents of the areas. With such events attracting people from all over the world, it has done wonders for the tourism industry of the country.

We spoke to Air Commodore (Retd.) Shahid Nadeem, a prominent name in Pakistan’s winter sports who has been associated with such events and activities for the last 28 years; he is the former secretary of Winter Sports Federation and now Convener, Adventure Group National Tourism Coordination Board. “I’m making the calendar for 2021 where we intend to hold the national championships for the first time in curling, ice hockey and skating.

“We’ve had several festivals since the beginning of the year. There are certain events that are happening every year and some events happened for the first time this year – like the International Snowboarding Festival – and hopefully we will keep building on these. One of our events in January, the Winter Sports Circuit, had two coaches coming from abroad who even conducted classes for the local participants,” says Shahid.

Snow Marathon 2020

He shared that events this year had been very successful. An example was the Snow Marathon that happened at Malam Jabba in March – which was the first of its kind and attracted around 120 people.

The organizers put in immense effort in making this event a possibility and the participants had a wonderful experience. What is really encouraging to see is that from Chitral to Swat to GB, winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and ice skating are getting popular in Pakistan’s northern regions.

In general, more people are joining these activities with the number of athletes increasing with every event.

For Pakistan, things are gradually building up for winter sports. Previously there was only one destination, Naltar, where some activities took place. Now, there are many locations that have started such events and many places that are being explored.

Malam Jabba’s comparatively close proximity to the capital and its geographical features make it ideal for winter sports events, which is why many training programs have kicked off there.

There are also areas such as Madak Lusht and many more in the works that have also started conducted events. Compared to last year, the amount of tourist that visited this time was double.

There are 8-10 winter sports clubs in Gilgit-Baltistan that allow for people to get plenty of opportunity to partake in winter sports activities. One can confidently say there’s a lot more to look forward to.

Malam Jabba & its geographical features make it ideal for winter sports

With the introduction of new sports such as ice hockey, curling, figure skating and winter action adventure sports people now have more options. Furthermore, it is becoming easier for people to enjoy these sports with much less expenditures, since all one needs is to rent shoes and they can enjoy for the whole day.

In winters, with lakes freezing over, outdoor ice rinks are affordable to make because of the temperature. However, the plan is to make such things accessible all year round.

Pakistan has some of the biggest glaciers outside the polar region and some of the highest mountains but there were no activities in these areas especially the Northern Pakistan as far as the winter season is concerned.

Initially the aim was to popularize winter tourism, through creating winter sports events in these areas. Now that it has been kicked off, there’s no stopping it. In fact, now, Shahid Nadeem even has plans for the summers.

“We’re working on indoor ice rinks – like the ones we have in cities – where we can hold different series of ice sports competitions during the summertime,” said Nadeem. “Our purpose is to facilitate the region and build the capacity for various events, which is eventually going to lead to an increase of tourism in these areas.”

These efforts to make winter sports accessible all year round and increasing the events will lead to an increase in tourism. “With several organizations such as Red Bull helping out, we can definitely hope for a lot more interesting events to take place in the future,” says Nadeem.

Coaching under the threat of COVID in Hong Kong

Ken Yee Coaches at the Kung Pow King Hockey School in Hong Kong

By Ken Yee – National Teams of Ice Hockey

Ken Yee was gracious enough to write to us about his experiences as a hockey coach in Hong Kong and dealing with the coronavirus.

For over the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to earn a living as an ice hockey coach in my birthplace of Hong Kong. Like most Canadian kids, I grew up loving the game and played since childhood. But after spending virtually all my life in Toronto, I decided to take the leap and make the move while vacationing here in 2016. During that time, I met a good friend who is a former NCAA goaltender and hockey coach and he invited me to coach on ice. I was instantly hooked after the first my practice. There is just something special about hockey here for me that I can’t fully put into words. Hockey, the city, and finally the general experiences I had here were the catalysts to take the gamble and uproot my entire life. About a year after my visit, I quit my job, sold my car and rented out my apartment. I flew here on a one-way ticket from Toronto with my two cats, two large suitcases, two CCM twigs and a hockey bag. It was everything I had left as I embarked on my journey towards a new career and I’ve yet to regret a single moment of my new life in one of the most exciting cities in the world.

Most coaches are in this line of work because we have a passion for hockey. I absolutely love my job, but I’ll admit it’s not necessarily all fun and games. There is a bit of effort involved in coaching that parents and players may not be able to see. From the cerebral labour of practice planning, to the interpersonal and communicative work of dealing with real people -our players, and of course the physical toll it can take on our bodies, coaching can be a bit of a grind. Aside from this, there is also a certain precariousness looming over our livelihoods, for example, suffering an injury (or perhaps even a global pandemic).

Ken Yee and his students at Kung Pow King Hockey School

Now, most coaches in Hong Kong, including me, are not salaried workers. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Many of the coaches I know are employed at multiple hockey schools and may supplement their income with other work, such as a colleague who also works as a professional photographer. My income is derived from a whole host of coaching gigs I hold simultaneously, including on-ice coach for a hockey school, coach of a Hong Kong Women’s Ice Hockey League (HKWIHL) team, teaching inline skating at schools and finally running private training sessions. These different positions and gigs allow me to make the “okayest” of livings in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Students take in every world that coaches are telling them

But just after January 2020 kicked, things started to take a downturn for me professionally. Due to the rising number of infections in the city, the Hong Kong Education Bureau suspended all schools and it is still in effect today indefinitely. The inline skating classes I taught at an international school have been wiped out for the entire school year. Next to be suspended was the HKWIHL season. It is the only women’s league in the city, allowing the HK Women’s National Ice Hockey Team to compete internationally. I miss my girls and we have a great squad whom I believe can take home a championship this year. I’m just hoping these girls will get the chance to compete and prove me right. Then in March, the government imposed a complete shut down of all sports and leisure facilities. This included places such as public parks and of course, ice rinks. I haven’t been on a pair of skates to coach or to play in since. The only thing that is keeping me from a complete lack of income are the private sessions I have, either in one-on-one or small group settings of four people or less. 

Student practice inline

Dealing with financial stress coupled with isolation and boredom has not been fun, but I am certain there are others out there dealing with the same -if not worse. Coaches working in all levels of hockey all around the world are going through similar experiences. Though indeed the past four months has been quite tough, I try to remind myself that no matter how long this pandemic may last, it is only temporary. Personally, I’m cautiously optimistic that life will return to normal here soon in Hong Kong. The good news is that there have been no new cases of location infection for the past couple of weeks in the city, offering a glimpse of light in all this. Sequestered in one of the epicenters of the SARS virus in 2003, Hong Kongers are more experienced in dealing with a pandemic and have arguably been more prepared than most during the current crisis. Nevertheless though, we are dealing with this pandemic on a global scale this time and we all need to do our parts in stopping the spread of this virus.

Hope to see everyone back on the ice soon and masks on people!

Stay strong let’s fight this thing together.

Kids wearing Facemasks on the ice due to COVID-19

Kung Pow King Hockey School

J&K Ice Hockey Association formed

By State Times News

The Ice Hockey Association for Jammu and Kashmir was formed on Thursday in the presence of President Dr S.M Bali and Secretary General Harjinder Singh of Ice Hockey Association of India at Circuit house, Sonwar, here.

During the meeting, the members laid the emphasis on the promotion of winter sports especially Ice Hockey in Jammu and Kashmir.

The general body also confirmed the elected members of the new unit with Dr S.M Bali as President and Ajaz Rasool Mir as General Secretary of Ice Hockey Association for Jammu and Kashmir.
The house authorised the Dr Bali to nominate rest of the office bearers and executive committee members with in a week’s time.

It was unanimously decided to host the 10th IHAI National Championship for Men at the Ice Hockey Rink in Gulmarg. Dr Bali along with Harjinder Singh, Ajaz Rasool Mir and Waseem Raja Khan visited the Rink at Gulmarg for an on the spot assessment of the facility to host the sport at National level. IHAI also decided to conduct UT level coaching camp for boys and girls prior to the national championship at Gulmarg.
Harjinder also shared the past success of Indian National Team of Ice Hockey with the house.
He stated that Indian men’s team got a silver medal in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia (Div -1) at Kuwait in 2017 and women’s team won a bronze in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia ( Div-1) at Abu Dhabi in 2019.
With the focus of the Government of India on winter sports through 1st Khelo India Winter Games Meet recently held at Gulmarg, Singh laid emphasis on competent management for developing the sport and felt that the new body will deliver to their expectations.

The 10th Nationals at Gulmarg in 2021 would give right impetus to develop this Winter Olympic Sport in the region and also give a spurt to Sports tourism in the Region, he said.
He thanked Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, for initiating Khelo India Winter Games.

Ice Hockey Association of India is a full member of International Ice Hockey Federation and also Indian Olympic Association.


Cooperation Offer with Japan for Ice Hockey Development in Nepal

By Nepal Flash

Nepal Ice Hockey Association has proposed cooperation with Japan for the development of ice hockey  in Nepal. The general secretary of the association Ganesh Rimal proposed this before the Japan Ice Hockey Association in connection with his visit to Japan. Cooperation between Nepal-Japan Ice Hockey Association was discussed with Kumiharu Kitagawa, Chairman of the International Committee of the Ice Hockey Association, Marita of the International Committee and officials of the Japan Ice Hockey Association.

On that occasion the importance of development of ice hockey game and training of Nepali players was given importance. Assistance for the construction of Ice Rink in Nepal and official visit of Nepal and Japan to officials and players of the two countries was discussed, according to Nepal Ice Hockey Association.

During the discussion, the Chairman of the International Committee of the Japan Ice Hockey Association said that the Japan Ice Hockey Association is ready to provide all kinds of assistance for the development of ice hockey in Nepal. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary General of the Nepal Ice Hockey Association, Rimal, said that Nepal has a natural rhythm for the Ice Hockey game and that its development can be expanded to support tourism.

Secretary General Rimal is on a trip to Japan.

Kyrgyzstan’s first female team shatters stereotypes

By Reuters

A group of girls from a remote village in Kyrgyzstan have come together to form the central Asian country’s first all-female ice hockey team — Shapak.

Based in the northern village of Otradnoe, 400km (249 miles) east of the capital Bishkek, the team of some 15 schoolgirls began training three years ago on a plot of farmland belonging to their coach with whatever equipment they could muster.

“In the winter, I create an ice rink. This is already the sixth year I’ve done it, I use my allotment all year round,” the team’s coach Salamat Abdyrakhmanov told Reuters TV.

News of the team reached as far as Switzerland and they soon had professional hockey pads thanks to donations from the Kyrgyz community living there.

With no other female teams to play against, Shapak honed their skills against male teams and the injuries suffered by some of the players left parents concerned.

“I was against it at the beginning, only recently I forbade her from playing,” Aynura Zhasyrkeeva, the mother of one of the players, said.

A puck hit her in the eye and she received a concussion, but she’s better now. Now she’s come to play again.”

Having shattered gender stereotypes in the country where the sport is dominated by men, the female team is now a firm fixture in local leagues.

“My classmate, the coach’s daughter, suggested I come and try to play,” goalkeeper Zarina Karabaeva said.

“I tried going in goal and because I was good at it and they made me goalkeeper … it never even occurred to me that I would ever play hockey.”

(Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

From the Himalayas to the world

Dorjay Dolma took part in the 2019 IIHF Women’s Goaltending Development Camp in Slovakia

By Martin Merk –

We are in the middle of a short ice hockey season for India where the sport is mostly played at the foot of the Himalayas in Leh in the Ladakh region.

India’s hockey heartland is located in one of the most northern territories of the country where mountain ranges separate India from Tibet, China, while New Delhi is located 500 kilometres to the south.

The story of the local hockey community has created many stories that even led Canadian Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser to travel there and bring equipment. Our first story on the Indian women dates back to 2012 with the header “Confidence through hockey”.

“There are many mountains in my region. It is very beautiful and mostly people depend on farming. In the city there are also government jobs,” said one of the Indian women’s national team players, Dorjay Dolma.

The parents of the 26-year-old work in farming too and even the sport of ice hockey is connected to it. The water reservoir that is used to irrigate the fields during warmer periods becomes a pond in the winter. With temperatures of currently between -22°C and -7°C (-7 to +19°F), it’s hockey time!

The hockey season runs from mid-December until mid-February, otherwise the players have no ice.

Dolma has been the second goaltender of the women’s national team and as such had a prolonged season because the team plays internationally each spring in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia, a program designed for Asian nations whose hockey programs are developing and not big enough yet to participate in the World Championship tournaments. Although several Asian countries have made the move to the World Championship program in recent years after getting their international ice time on the continent.

“We play in winters in Leh and afterwards we go to the tournaments. Sometimes we go to the host country one week earlier to practise there,” she said. There the players have to cope with a different environment.

Ice hockey started first with the army located in the region in the ‘70s. In the first attempts of the men’s team in IIHF play about a decade ago they had to learn playing with boards when they didn’t have any in India where they played for the national championship on natural ice but in front of thousands of spectators at tribunes.

Meanwhile the first boards have been installed at one rink in Leh. The hockey rink gets some upgrading each year. Still, for the Indian women it means going from frozen ponds to ice rinks in shopping mall in places with hot climate such as Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or this year in Manila in the Philippines.

It also means having to save many pucks for the Indian goaltenders against opposition that can play the sport all year.

“Sometimes it looks very difficult to save the pucks but I want to do it and make it easier to me,” Dolma explained.

Having Wickenheiser visiting her and her colleagues and going to Wickenheiser’s festival in Canada was a big moment for her.

“She came to Ladakh to see us through the Ladakh Women’s Ice Hockey Foundation where we give coaching to young girls. She saw our documentary on YouTube and came to Ladakh, brought us some equipment and hosted us in Canada for 20 days. It was the best place I have ever been to play hockey,” she said.

Dorjay Dolma during off-ice training at the 2019 IIHF Women’s Goaltending Development Camp

Dolma studied at SECMOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) where ice skating and ice hockey are part of the program in the winter season.

“We learn lot of things. We learn English, about the world, farming, everything. In winter we make our own rink with the teachers. We flood it with water and after one week we play hockey at the rink. The school is a very supportive institute,” Dolma said.

Her main topics were economics, English, Indian history and political science. After graduating she started working at a hotel last year. She came to ice hockey without previous knowledge about the sport and one of her four younger sisters plays the sport as well. In her free time she likes hang around with her friends in the village and make jokes.

“My parents don’t know how to play hockey. I showed them pictures on the phone,” said Dolma, who was also part of the IIHF Women’s Goaltending Development Camp last year in Slovakia.

“It was my first time in Europe. It was a very nice and beautiful place. My grandfather, my parents and the Ice Hockey Association of India supported me to go there,” she said.

“It was a really good camp for me. I have never had the chance before. I learned more about body movement, how to slide, to track the puck. Their teaching technique was very unique for me,” she said. And although she says she was hesitant because she’s shy, she had the chance to be on the ice with former goaltenders from the Olympic Winter Games helping the young goaltenders.

“We are all dreaming that we will one day participate in the Winter Olympics,” she said.

It’s still a long way for India to get there but soon after the ice season in Leh is over, the Indian women’s national team will travel to the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia in Manila where they are seeded in the Division I tournament with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

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