When you talk about the country of Morocco, Ice Hockey is not a subject unless you talk to Adil El Farj who is Morocco national team goalie and now is with Fédération Royale Marocaine de Hockey sur Glace.
We caught up with Adil in Montreal and ask him some question about himself and Hockey in Morocco.
Where did you start playing the game of Ice hockey?
I live in Canada, so hockey here is not the national sport … it’s the national religion . So when my parents moved to Canada the logical thinking was to play hockey.
Goaltending is a tough position, why did you pick this position?
As a kid from Montreal my idols were Patrick Roy, Felix Potvin, Jimmy Waite and later Martin Brodeur. So goaltending was a no brainier for me.
When did you hear about Hockey in Morocco?
I was in Quebec City in February 2006 and I saw that Morocco was a participant in the famous pee wee tournament. I was really proud to see them play.
Why did you become Involved in Morocco Hockey?
In 2008 the guys went over to UAE for the Arab cup and I got in touch with them to get involved !
What are the main challenges for the advancement of ice hockey in Morocco?
The biggest challenge right now is building a full size IIHF rink ! We have pressure from both the kids and the senior players to have one : The kids because of the growing number that want to join and start hockey, And adults because they want to play a real game 5 on 5 and not 3 on 3.
Having a full size rink will allow us to participate in the IIHF World Championship program and become a full member.
Right now we are stuck in a loop, like all the non participants countries we don’t have a regular ice so we don’t play in the IIHF championships . And since we don’t participate in any IIHF championship our authorities in Morocco don’t see why we should have a rink.
In Morocco there are some small Ice rinks where you have held some hockey camps for kids, how did that go and will there be any future camps organized?
We had to refuse kids ! The ice was too small but we managed. During the 2015 IIHF congress we obtain donation of gear. This donation was VERY VERY much appreciated. It was not enough for the kids . Remember there is no equipment stores in Morocco and the closes place to buy a puck is in Barcelona !
In 2016 the African Cup for club teams took place, How did Morocco do and will there be any future tournaments?
Oh it was fun! Even if it was a organization challenge, we had a lot fun.
What impressed the IIHF observers is the level of play of the teams that were there and also the crowd ! We had a full house.
Morocco National Team has not played since 2008 Arab Cup. You have mention to me about a possible organizing a tournament for small hockey nations,. has there been any progress since we last talk about it?
In my last IIHF congress in Moscow, we discussed with IIHF non participants countries to create a Championship ! The point of doing this is to give our players an opportunity to compete vs other players on an international level.
Also our goals is to show the IIHF that we are taking things serious and we are doing something and not just waiting for a miracle !
In order For international hockey to develop, we and all the IIHF members that don’t participate in regular competition must have an international competition to offer our players a hope that they can compete with other hockey nations, otherwise we would be telling them that they have no horizon or hope other than local house leagues!
Right now Namibia left the IIHF because they felt they are going no where with no participation.
We have to turn the tide to show the IIHF that small countries want play and want to grow the game.
Your Jersey is displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame along with the hockey greats. This must of been a huge honour for you?
You have no idea how big an honor it is ! But most important is that this jersey and all the other artifacts are there because of all the guys and all the Morocco hockey players and staff. It’s a great honor for all of us.
What would like to see happen in the next 5 yeas for Ice Hockey in Morocco and Africa in general?
My personal goals for the next five years
– build a full size arena
– increase the number of female players and have a female league.
– Participate in IIHF World Championship Program
– Organize an IIHF Championship for small nations
– Organize an IIHF semi annual congress