Category: Interviews (page 1 of 2)

Q & A With Aaron Guli

By National Team of Ice Hockey

We had the great pleasure to speak to Aaron Guli President of the Ireland Ice Hockey Association. Ireland has not been on the International scene in a number of years, but Aaron Guli hopes to change that someday but for now the focus is on youth hockey and building the game from with in.

Can you give us some insight on when you became President of the Ireland Ice Hockey Association and why did you take the job?

I became President of the IIHA four years ago. I took the job because our association was in need of a complete overhaul. With my experience in hockey and  business I felt that I could help to implement the changes that were needed.

Ireland has a rich ice hockey history but the game has not taking off like some people would like, can you explain why?

The reason for the stagnation in hockey here in Ireland boils down to one issue, the lack of a permanent rink. There was a lovely arena in Dundalk but it closed in 2010 due to management issues. So without a rink it becomes difficult to implement programs to grow the game.

The Belfast Giants have helped ice hockey grow in Northern Ireland, but has it helped Ireland?

The Belfast Giants have certainly been key in the growth of hockey in Northern Ireland. I feel that their influence has been minimal here in Ireland. It’s good to be able to go and see a live game but it is a haul to get there. It would be roughly two hours each way to get there from Dublin. We have a cable channel here that shows NHL, Swedish Elite League and English Elite League games.

What other things is the IIHA doing to grow the game in Ireland?

There are a good few things we have been focusing on over these last four years. First we are focusing on youth hockey. We have established the first ever National Junior Development Program. We take the more advanced players from out youth clubs and start to prepare them to represent Ireland on an international level. We call the team the Saints. We have been having them travel internationally the past year. We’ve were in Boston and Toronto, Iceland, UK last season and we have teams traveling to Spain, England, and Belgium this season. We work on getting donations of equipment sent from North America to provide for the youth clubs. This helps to lower the costs. We have been working on improving our coaches nationally through course work and seminars. On a senior level we created an annual Cup competition. In one year it has grown from four teams to ten. We have been fortunate to have four teams from Northern Ireland take part this season. There are certainly more things we have been working on but these are just a few.

IIHA Saints in Toronto, Canada.

Ireland Men’s National Team has not played at the IIHF World Championships since 2013 with the closure of the Dundalk Ice dome. When do think Ireland will be back at the International stage?

We are not allowed to put any of our teams in IIHF World Championships due to not having a rink. The IIHF Minimum Participation Rules state that until we get a permanent arena we can not take part.

Are there any future plans to build an Olympic size arena in Ireland?

The IIHA is continuously working on trying to get a new rink open. We have two main possibilities at this point. There is the facility in Dundalk that closed seven years ago and there is a site in Dublin we have been working on. The major issue we have at this point is financing. Our government does not support sports like ours so we would not be in a position to receive support from them. After completing a comprehensive business plan we are looking, primarily in North America, for investment.

How do you think Ireland compares to other national teams after being away for a numbers of years from the international stage?

On the Div 3 level, that was the last level we competed at, I think we would still be one of the top teams in that division.

The Irish Ice Hockey League was founded in 2007 but it collapsed due to funding issues. Are there any plans to revive the league?

The IIHL actually folded when the rink in Dundalk closed. Without a rink it’s rather difficult to run a league. Once we get a rink open again we may revisit the idea of restarting the league but it’s not something we focus on at this time. The Cross Border Cup is the extent of what we are offering at this time.

The league’s inaugural champions Dundalk Bulls 2007-2008.

Can you elaborate about the Cross Border Cup. Who plays in it and when is it played?

The Cross Border Cup consists of 8 clubs and 10 teams. There are 3 clubs/4 teams from Northern Ireland and 5 clubs/6 teams from Ireland. We are currently in the playoff final rounds now. That has been broken in to two levels, A & B. It is played on varying nights, primarily on Saturday nights. The teams are made up of players 18 yrs of age and older (there are a few exceptions of players between 16-17 yrs based on playing ability). The Cup is also open to male and female players.

Have you had any seminaries with players or coaches to improve their skills?

We have been focusing on sending our kids and coaches abroad for camps and seminars. This summer, though, I am hoping to bring over a power skating instructor to run a camp at one of the rinks in Northern Ireland.

What would you like people to know about Irish Ice hockey?

We have hockey here in Ireland! We have a great mix of Irish, eastern European, and North American players. We have a growing youth program. We do this all without a rink. Imagine what it would be like with a rink. We have two great locations to get a rink opened but we need investment. We are hoping to attract interest from North amebic in that regard. Hockey is a sport made for the Irish, fast and physical.

What is your favorite NHL team and player?

The Montreal Canadiens. Past, Larry Robinson. Current, PK Subban or Carey Price.

Q & A With Francois Gautier

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

With the average temperature of 30°C (85°F) you wouldn’t think ice hockey would be played in the Philippines, but the fact is the game has been played on the island for over 2 decades.

We had the great pleasure of speaking to Francois Gautier General Manger of Hockey Philippines,
Tournament Director, PHIT and Hockey Player, jack of all trades.

Ice hockey has been played for a number of years in the country. Why did it take so long to get it organize?

Indeed ice hockey has been in the Philippines for more than two decades, there were attempts in the past to form a federation but all were unsuccessful as it failed to gather everyone together. Fortunately about two to three years ago, a new group emerge and was successful in bringing in all parties together and form the federation, Hockey Philippines.

How many ice rinks are there in the country and are their any plans to build more?

There is a total of 4 rinks currently. 3 in the metro area (southmall – small rink, megamall and mall of Asia – Olympic size) and 1 in the island of Cebu. A new rink at the SM mall of Asia third floor is in the plans in time for the 2019 SEA games in the Philippines.

Can you tells us about the Manila ice hockey league?

The MIHL was established in 2008, starting with two “half”‘ seasons before eventually going one full season. It is a 4 team recreational league composed of expats and local players, more and more local players are participating especially with the youth growing up.

How did you get involed with Philippines ice hockey?

I was actually one of the first hockey players of the Philippines, starting my hockey career when I was 7 or 8 back in 1991 in southmall rink.
I started getting involved in organizing hockey starting from weekly pick up games to also helping out start and run the league (I was commissioner for a couple of years and I am in my 5th year as GM) – eventually I got into it a little more with the federation as one of its founders and GM.

You were part of the first Philippines national ice hockey team that competed at the Asian Winter Games. Do you think the team reach it’s expectations?

I think we went to Winter Games with one goal in mind and it was to show the world that Philippine Hockey is here and well and we are not a country to take lightly in our division.
We of course hoped to bring home the gold but considering it was our first time in an international tournament with IIHF rules and format, we reach a big milestone bringing home the bronze.
It was truly an honor representing my country and making it proud with our achievement.

The first ever Philippines National Ice Hockey Team at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.

What are the expectations for the up coming Challenge Cup of Asia and the South East Asia Games later this summer?

I think for the upcoming CCOA in Kuwait as well as the SEAG in Malaysia, we are aiming once again to come out on top, we are determined to work and prepare even harder than we did for the Winter Games. The competition in both will be different, with the SEAG level being higher as we will be facing the likes of Thailand who won the division I tournament in AWG.

Where does Philippines ice hockey get it’s funding from?

Our funding is basically from the players themselves, but now we are getting support from our government and local companies, and also from our federation president that has been contributing a great deal to help us flourish the way we have the past couple of years.

Do you see Ice hockey challenging basketball for popularity in the Philippines?

As a basketball nation, I think it will be a very big challenge but nonetheless we are ready and determined to put Hockey on the map in the Philippines, making it one of the popular sports in the country by working hard and achieving milestones our countrymen can be proud of and aspire to.

How would you evaluate the ice hockey talent in the country?

Filipinos are born athletes. The moment we put our minds into something we love, with proper training, equipment and facilities, we can achieve many great things. I am amazed with the talent and skill that our youth is showing and only give me very high hopes for the future.

Did you Idolize and hockey players when you were growing up?

Haha. I think any hockey player idolized one or two greats growing up, and I am no exception. I grew up and still am a Ducks fan (yes it started because of the movie, heck I started hockey also because of it) – so it was the tandem of Paul Kariya and, of course the Finnish flash, Teemu Selanne, which is, by far, my all time favorite player. I wish my backhand is as good as his though…

Q & A With Shahryar Amini Captain of Iran

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 your self 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.

First Captain of Iran Shahryar Amini.

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)

            Team Iran in Sapporo, Japan.

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.

Q & A With Mauricio Xavier

portugal ice hockey

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

This is an interview I have been wanted to do for a very long time since my background is Portuguese.
Mauricio Xavier is the President of Federação Portuguesa de Desportos no Gelo and is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1999.

Mauricio Xavier has a real passion for the game and over the last 8-10 years he has been trying to bring and ice rink to Lisbon, Portugal with no success, now he is taken to social media to gather support.

Portugal is the only country in Western Europe not have an ice rink.

We got a change to talk to Mauricio about the history of the game in Portugal and his struggles to get an ice rink built in Lisbon, Portugal.

Can you introduce yourself to our audience and give us a brief history about Ice hockey in Portugal?

My name is Mauricio Xavier, born in Lisbon, 50 years old and currently the President of the Portuguese Ice Sports Federation. I spent 13 years of my youth in Montreal, Canada, where I nurtured my love for Hockey, where I learned how to skate and played a couple of years in an organization called Sun Youth. I just loved the game ever since, and has always been my favorite sport.

Ice Hockey was first played in Portugal around 1996, when an Ice Rink opened in a town called Viseu, which is around 270kms away from Lisbon where I live.

Like me, a lot of players would drive up from Lisbon and other parts of the country, once or twice a month to practice and sometimes play. The season would then usually end with a long weekend trip to Madrid to play on an official sized rink, as the one in Viseu was far from regular sized. Since we were a group of newcomers, Inline hockey and ex-emigrants Ice hockey players that had played abroad, this was an opportunity for us to play as one against a local Spanish team, which is something we still do every once in a while.

Ice hockey ended in Viseu in 2004 when they closed down the mall the rink was in, for renovations, and Ice Hockey has not been played there ever since. The reason for this is because the rink is now in the middle of the mall’s food court and offers no way of protecting spectators from flying pucks.

Can you talk about Ice hockey league in the country in the the early 2000s?

The players that would regularly attend practices on weekends in Viseu, created a team called the Viseu Lobos and decided to invite Inline Hockey players from around the country to form another team called the Inline Stars, and started playing against each other about once a month. One or two seasons after, a whole Inline team called the Vikings also joined in, and for about three years we had a 3 team championship. Because of the small rink size, we would play 4 on 4 and I believe the Lobos and Stars each won some championships.
2001 Champions Viseu Lobos.

In the last 8-10 years you have been trying to get and ice rink built in the Capital of Lisbon. What has been the main obstacles to getting this done?

There are a few, but the main one is financial. First of all, Portugal has been in a serious economic crisis for most of that time, where we even had to borrow money from the IMF, and investment dropped drastically. It seems nobody wants to invest in an unknown project, because it has never been tried and there is a notion that it would be very expensive to maintain in a warm climate like we have here in Portugal. Leaders also want to promote a country that is sunny all year around and in their view, having an ice arena contradicts that notion. Then, one of the biggest obstacles is soccer. Portuguese are crazy about it. Everyone is a fan, and that’s basically all they care about, especially in this Cristiano Ronaldo and Euro Cup winners era. All other sports get very little attention.

Roller Hockey is very popular in the country and there is some inline hockey too, how have you tried to get the hockey community to come together to help your cause?

That’s real difficult to happen George. Out of the secondary sports, and here it is regulated by another Federation that is a FIRS affiliate. We don’t get along. They don’t want their player playing either Inline or Ice Hockey, and really they are kind of afraid we grow and steal players from them, like they see happening in countries where roller Hockey used to be played more intensely like Italy, Argentina, Brazil and even Spain.

Even for Inline Hockey it is very difficult to get playing and practice time, because the indoor pavilions are all occupied for roller Hockey. Right now, there are no more than three Inline teams, two of them being in the Lisbon Suburbs. One in Sintra, and another in Cascais.

Have you reached out to the Portuguese communities in Canada mainly in Toronto and Montreal for help?

Not directly, no. I do know and talk to some Portuguese people that are into hockey, living in Montreal, Toronto and New Jersey and some are ready and eager to help, but not to extent what we need, which is an ice rink in Lisbon. Your question however has given me some ideas which I will pursue in the near future.

As there been any interest by Portuguese NHLers John Tavares, Mike Ribeiro and Adam Henrique in helping your cause to get an ice rink built?

Well, no. Not yet. I do want to. I don’t think they even know we play here in Portugal. I have thought of getting their help, but I believe we need to have the rink first. I don’t expect them to just come over and build a rink for us. We have to show we deserve their help by first building the rink. That will show our will and interest.

I know from conversations with NHLPA people hockey players like to help, and I will love seeing these players you mentioned on ice with a whole bunch of Portuguese youngsters. That’s how I see them helping, as well as maybe donated some equipments for the kids to start playing.

Image result for John Tavares

John Tavares, New York Islands

The last two years the Portugal has played against the Czech Republic. How did is come about?

We were lucky to get a great Czech ambassador here in Portugal, who found out we played Ice Hockey here in Portugal, and was fascinated by the idea of bringing over a group of his friends that get together in Prague for a weekly outdoor game. They came over two years ago, where we played a game in a temporary ice rink installed in a Bullring. we usually use every year in Elvas, also around 250kms from Lisbon. Last year the same group met for the second edition, in that outdoor rink in Prague used by the ambassadors friends, and this season we will get together again on the 14 of January in Elvas.

The sad thing about that, is that, last year we had the biggest ice rink ever installed in Lisbon. Even though it was temporary, and it had flimsy boards, it was installed in one of Lisbon main squares. It was promised to return this year, but it has been cancelled in the meantime.

Portugal National team played there first ever game in 2000 against The First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Center. Is their any future plans to have games against Canadian teams?

Unfortunately, there are no plans. George, without a rink there can’t be any plans. We’d love to have them over, but we never know soon enough if we’re going to have a decent rink! Even this year we were hoping and had been promised we would have the big Ice rink for the games with our Czech friends, only to see the sponsor cut that rink from their plans.

We welcomed any Canadian Inline Hockey team that would like to come over and play with us.

I’m hoping the trade deal between Canada and the European Union helps us out in the future.

1st Ice Hockey Game in Portugal (Portugal-Canada)

Portugal Jersey hangs at the Hockey Hall of Fame

What would an Ice rink do for winter sports in Portugal?

It would do wonders. Right now, in Winter Sports there are only skiers, snowboarders and a few speed skaters. Most of them have to go abroad to develop their sports. With an ice rink here in Lisbon, we would have a place to do it here. The temporary ice rinks don’t stay around long enough to help develop any of the ice sports, so an ice rink would obviously help create hockey, figure and speed skating champions. I’m positive on that George. Portuguese have excellent capabilities in skating sports. We have kids becoming World and European champions in Roller Figure skating, we have very talented roller hockey players that I’m sure would make great hockey players. I’m a firm believer they just don’t do it on ice because there is no rink. It would also be a great alternative for the people that don’t like soccer.

You also do NHL Hockey commentary for Sports TV in Portugal, How are you received in the sports community and who is your favorite players or teams?

Well, I know we don’t attract much attention as the the soccer games. We have the inconvenience of being
Premium Sports Channel where people have to pay extra to watch, and it isn’t cheap because of all the soccer they get. Another Inconvenience is that the games are live around midnight, local time. We did however do Blackhawks – Ducks game, the have a pretty big fan base, this American Thanksgiving game that we broadcasted at 9pm. We had a huge following on our facebook page, even though the other 4 sports channels were all showing soccer games.

You see, The Portuguese people love roller hockey when it’s well played and if they get to see snd follow ice hockey they’ll soon get addicted to it. Unfortunately I don’t think it’ll get the same fan base as soccer, but I believe there is room for ice sports in the country. All we need is a little push with a ice rink, so we can offer lessons and training during the winter months. I’m sure interest will start growing exponentially afterwards.

As for my favorite team, this is the easiest question to answer. I’m a true die hard Montreal Canadiens fan.
I grew up in Montreal during the 1970s, so there was no reason not to like them. 

Guy Lafleur was my favorite player, and the reason I always wore #10. Nowadays some of my favorite players are guys like Connor McDavid, Austin Matthews, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Brett Burns.
From the Canadiens I Like Radulov, Galchenyuk, Price, and I am also rooting for the teams where Tavares, Ribeiro and Henriques play for if the Canadiens are not in the mix.

Mauricio Xavier doing the first game of the Canadiens on Sporttv.

Q & A With Bruce Strachan

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Posted December 7th, 2015

Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley, mountain highlands and abundant wildlife such as lions, elephants and rhinos. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris visit the Maasai Mara reserve, known for its annual wildebeest migrations, and Amboseli National Park, offering views of Tanzania’s 5,895m Mt Kilimanjaro.
Kenya is one of the last places you would think of playing hockey, but the game is thriving in this country and we got a change to talk to Bruce Strachan one of the people who are running ice hockey in the country.

Could you tell us something about the history of hockey in Kenya?

Panari ice skating rink opened in 2005. As I understand it Andrew Gremely from Chicago was the one who got the ball rolling when he facilitated the very first game – a scrimmage between a group of development workers from Edmonton who were visiting Nairobi for one week and thought it would be fun to have an Equatorial ice hockey game.
When it became apparent that the rink had no hockey nets, by the way, Andrew solved the problem by welding nets together at his own expense. And we’re still using those nets to this day!

How did you end up playing ice hockey in Kenya?

You’re probably familiar with the saying, “build it and they will come.” Well ten years ago the Panari Hotel here in Nairobi built an ice skating rink on its second floor. And true to the word, I came to join what was back then, a handful of informal pioneering Sub-Saharan-African hockey players skating around in tee shirts and jeans, led by an intrepid expat from Chicago named Andrew Gremley.

How big is the ice rink?

Panari’s rink is 4572 square meters – roughly ¾ the IIHF regulation size

Image result for Kenya Ice Hockey

Is the ice rink at the Panari Sky Center open all year round?


You organize hockey games in Kenya, how many people show up and how many times do you play a week?

At this point we play once a week throughout the whole year, with attendance levels varying between ten and fifteen players per session.

Is there a Kenya ice hockey league right now if not are there any future plans to have one?

With our current array of gifted and committed players, such as David Damberger (captain), Benard Azegere (assistant captain), James Covey, Ali Kilanga and Myles Lutheran, to name a few, we’ve been taking steps towards transforming what, up until now, has been informal pick-up sessions into a formal
league competition. Our goal is to implement league play in 2016 with four initial teams that would represent the Nairobi, Kakamega, Malindi and Turkana regions of Kenya. From this pool of players we plan to field a national team for annual international competitions.

You wrote a open letter on how to increase Kenyan youth participation to the Panari Sky Center.
What are hoping to accomplish?

During the decade that I’ve been playing ice hockey in Africa I’ve always felt that as a Kenyan-based group it was unfortunate that we didn’t have greater local participation – especially given that there’s an astonishingly high level of talent, enthusiasm and heart for the game among-st the youth here –many of whom learned to skate on inline-skates.
The relatively prohibitive cost of ice time (approximately 10 USD per session) is the main factor for this disparity. And so I came up with a simple and straightforward plan to attain corporate and institutional support by which local youth participation could potentially increase.
To his great credit Toney Kitonga, the rink’s General Manager, as welcomed and received this proposal. And in fact, by the end of our very first meeting subsequent to the letter, sponsored two talented Kenyan youths effective immediately. A few hours later those two guys were out there on the ice scoring beautiful goals. And just like that, the future of indigenous ice hockey in Africa got a significant boost.

Have you had any seminaries with players or coaches to improve their skills?

As yet no. And I’ve got to say it’s pretty impressive how the youth have taught themselves the basics all on their own.
Toronto based Adrian Mizzi, known as the Traveling Goalie, has offered to come and lead a seminar, and we’d certainly welcome him – or any other player willing to donate their time.

Operation of the ice rink and playing ice hockey comes at a price. How do you try to keep costs down?

Apart from that one instance concerning my lobbying for local youth sponsorship I have no input  regarding the rink’s admission policies.

Are there any future plans to have a Kenya Ice Hockey Association and would you like to be part of it?

Yes. One of our challenges is that as a team still made up primarily of expats many of our core players reside in Africa for less than two or three years. So when it comes to building a local hockey community with a future it is imperative that we take more steps to enfranchise local youth.
As mentioned earlier, there’s an extraordinary amount of budding hockey talent over here. And I’d very much like to see this potential developed and formalized into a sustainable league, and subsequently a competitive national team.
Of course, the drawback to that is our rink doesn’t yet conform to regulation standards means that our near-term prospects for engaging in competitive hockey are limited. We do however have high hopes that, with the anticipated success of our forthcoming three-on-three tournaments, a regulation size rink will be warranted in the not too distant future. “Build it and they will come,” right?$_1.JPG

Have you had any contact with the IIHF about future membership?

Not as yet. We aren’t quite there yet. But as we do clearly see the benefits of membership I think we’ll be ready to take that step in the near term.

Other Africa nations like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt are starting to have Ice hockey
programs and South Africa is well establish, would you like to be part of growing the game in Africa?

We’ve reached out to the other African clubs and likewise many of them have reached out to us.
Intercontinental relations are familial, friendly and positive. Currently I’m engaged in preliminary discussions with Adil El Farj who’s hosting Morocco’s All Africa tournament in 2016, where we hope to join Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and South Africa. Likewise we’re also working on increasing our own capacity so that we can host a Kenyan tournament in 2017. If all goes according to plan we’ll soon be inviting these, and other African nations, to participate.
By the way, although I’m presently pushing for an inter-African tournament, we’re also quite open to establishing relationships with other teams from around the globe. Personally, I’d really love to one day bring our Kenyan squad over to Ladakh, and play pond hockey in the Himalayas.
Enthusiasts from across North America have also been supportive. My sister’s community in Newmarket, Ontario for instance, has donated much-appreciated equipment. A Vancouver based memorabilia collector has been helpful in getting team jerseys produced at an affordable cost, and a
wanderlust-full goaltender from Toronto has generously offered to come over and share his stick, skate and glove-saving expertise with our local youth.

What is the one unique thing about playing ice hockey in Kenya?

Well for starters, on clear days I’ve actually seen giraffes, zebras and gazelles prancing around outside the rink’s hotel window – that’s pretty unique no? But let’s face it, you probably wouldn’t be terribly interested in our team if we were based in Trois-Rivières or Thunder Bay. So there is something genuinely unique and intriguing just in and of itself about a group of die-hard hockey players shaving up Sub-Saharan ice. We’re sort of a contradiction in terms. Our closest ice hockey neighbor, by the way, is Cairo – that’s 2,000 miles away! And this gives you a sense of just how remote an outpost of the game we are.

Q & A with Alisher Azimov head of Uzbek Hockey


By National Teams of Ice hockey

In 2013 Uzbekistan revived ice hockey after a very long absents.
Ice Hockey was as popular in the 1950-60s and in 1971 the country had its first pro team Binokor which started to play in Soviet Union’s Vtoraya Liga (Second League) and eventually started to play in the Soviet Pervaya Liga (First League). In the 1990s hockey died out.
We had a change to talk to Alisher Azimov head of Uzbekistan ice Hockey and ask him a few question about hockey in the country

Very little is known about ice hockey In Uzbekistan, can you tells us the history of the game in the country?

Ice Hockey in Uzbekistan was established in 1972 under Soviet Union and it was known at that time as most southern country to play ice hockey and it was acknowledge by Guinness Record books.

Our most known team to play in USSR championships was team “Binokor” it had achieved some recognizable results and had the respect within the Soviet Union countries, but unfortunately in 1988 it came to an end, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and for not being able to finance the this sport.


In 2013 there seem to be a resurgence for the game, what brought this on to start hockey again after a very long absences?

First ice rink was built in 2013 in the capital of Uzbekistan (Tashkent), at that time I was in UAE playing in Emirates hockey league.

When I heard the news about the newly opened Ice rink, I  decided to come back to Uzbekistan and to re-establish ice hockey. With the help of ex hockey players we were able to start a new ice hockey team, to which I gave the name “Binokor.




The Ice Hockey Federation of Uzbekistan was founded in December 24, 2013, when will the federation apply to the IIHF?

Currently we are working on re-establishing Ice hockey Federation, we have gathered all required documents and applications.After we open the federation we are planing to do following things:

1. To create first national team

2. Apply to IIHF (International ice hockey federation)

3. To attend any tournaments to which we are allowed to play in.

How many ice rinks does Uzbekistan have?

Currently we only have two ice rinks, first one  is 20 x 40 meters and the second one which is seasonal 50 x 25 meters, it only operates in the cold seasons.

Both of the ice rinks are privately owned.

At the moment we do not have the support from our government, I hope it will change very soon.

Are youth programs being run in the country?

Talking about youth, currently we have close to 100 youth players, their age range from 4 years old to 16 years old, and I believe one day they will represent our country in big arenas.


What would you like people to know about Uzbekistan Ice hockey?

I want the people all around the world to know, especially people who love ice hockey, in Uzbekistan we have people who love this sport and are working hard to make it better. At the end I would like to say thanks to people who are with me right now on this journey, and to all people who believed in us and supporting us I say Thank You.


Q & A with first head coach of India Adam Shelip

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Adam Sherlip is the first head coach of the India National Ice Hockey Team. He started coaching ice hockey in India as part of an initiative he started, called “The Hockey Volunteer”.
Sherlip discovered hockey in India while coaching in China. As a result of “The Hockey Volunteer” initiative, Sherlip founded The Hockey Foundation,  a non-profit that uses ice hockey to help improve life in the communities The Hockey Foundation’s pilot program operates in Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Hockey Foundation has donated over 4,000 pieces equipment since 2009.

We had a great pleasure to talk to him and ask him a few question about the foundation and Ice hockey in India.

Can you talk about the Hockey Foundation. When did it first start and who does it help?

The Hockey Foundation began after my 2009 trip to India.  I found out about ice hockey in the Himalayas in late 2008 from U.S. Olympian Angela Ruggiero, whom I’d coached with in China the previous year for the New York Islanders.  I spent a month fundraising under the banner “The Hockey Volunteer” and arrived in January 2009.  That trip was a great success and made such an impact on my life that I wanted to do it as something bigger than myself, and so I founded The Hockey Foundation.  Our mission is to change lives around the world via ice hockey, focusing on under-served communities.

Can you speak about some of the other volunteer coaches that have traveled to India under the Hockey Foundation and what they brought to the table?

We’ve had some awesome volunteer coaches over the years, many who have had such an incredible experience that they’ve returned on subsequent trips.  Alex Harney from northwestern Connecticut was the first volunteer to come along in 2011, and has been the main camera man & video producer over the years, including 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2016.  We met Paul Kozowyck from Calgary in Ladakh in 2011, and he came back to assist in 2013, the same year we met Antoine Jouvet from Montreal, who has become a major part of The Hockey Foundation since then, as he’s returned every single year and has brought in a team of volunteers as well, including Alex Touzel from Quebec City and Brayden Taekema from northern British Columbia.  They’ve all brought a ton of energy, enthusiasm, experience and passion to the program and have built their own relationships with hockey players around India.

When you first got to India you face many challenges in coaching the Indian ice hockey players, can you talk about some of those challenges?

Language is the most obvious challenge.  For many of the players on Team India, from 2009 through today, English is a third language.  For a few players it’s a second language.  Conveying details and nuance can be challenging in that setting, and even more difficult if I’m talking fast, as New Yorkers do, especially if we’re on the ice or on the bench and I’m speaking more intensely.  Beyond the language issues, I’ve had to teach/re-teach the basic concepts of the game, especially when I first started coaching the team.  At that time, there was really very little understanding of how the game is typically played, as there was less access to see games, and less technical instruction received at that time.

What is the biggest improvement you have seen from the day you started coaching in India to know?

I’m very proud to say that through the support of The Hockey Foundation and other organizations/volunteers, in partnership with the Ice Hockey Association of India, the level of ice hockey in India has improved dramatically.  First off, there is more equipment in the country after many years of donations, and so more players have the ability to get on the ice to learn and play.  Beyond that, we’ve been able to coach more players each season, and reach more young players, and so some of those players that may have been children when I first arrived in 2009 are young adults and leaders in the hockey community in India.  They have learned the game at a higher level than the previous generation that had very little instruction, and didn’t have a chance to watch hockey games (we’ve held private screenings of NHL and international games to help them understand the game at the highest level).  Social media is also helping, as players can now watch highlights from the NHL or IIHF competitions on Facebook and/or YouTube.  They can also watch some of the great instructional YouTube channels, like Hockey Tutorial and How To Hockey.  All of this combined has resulted in players that play a better team game than in 2009, shoot better, pass better, play at both ends of the ice, and understand the rules better.  I’m really proud of everyone involved that has helped get hockey in India to this point!

Can you talk about the 2012 Challenge Cup of Asia which was hosted by India, this must of been a huge accomplishment for India ice hockey?

Holding that event was a huge deal for ice hockey in India, and in many ways really helped ensure the program can continue to grow.  The facility in Dehra Dun was only open for 1-2 years at that time, but was lacking in technical expertise.  I brought in an ice technician from New York to help prepare the facility for all-day games, and he did a great job mostly on his own.  Beyond that, the event wouldn’t have been possible if not for the hard work of the Ice Hockey Association of India officials, in partnership with the local Uttarakhand government, which oversees the facility and the power.  Dehra Dun is not exactly a tourist hub, but it’s an interesting town in a beautiful part of the country.  I’d love to see that facility operating at full capacity year-round, and becoming the training center for the national teams.

During the 2012 Challenge Cup of Asia India got their first and only win in International competition over Macao, can you describe the emotion in that game?

That was such a special event for me, and for everyone involved in the program: players and officials.  We actually had a chance to win 2 games in that tournament, but weren’t able to keep the pace for all three periods in that other game.  The game against Macau (which was on my 28th birthday) was one of the best games the team has played to date, but in actuality, Team India is better today than it ever was.  We’ve received great compliments and feedback from our opponents, the referees and others involved in the Challenge Cup of Asia over the years who have noticed the improvement the team makes every year.  Unfortunately for us, the other programs are improving as well!

In 2015 India Men Ice hockey team made a trip to Canada and played the Brampton Beast. Will there be future trips?

We’d love to organize future trips, but will need to figure out funding options.  The trip to Brampton cost the Ice Hockey Association of India (and all involved) a lot of money, which we were hoping to make back (and then some) from door sales and jersey sales.  Beyond the finances, the program itself was a huge success, and has made a tremendous difference on all of the players involved.  It was just over 1 year ago, and many players involved still talk about how much the event meant to them.  For the players from India, many said that they had no idea how good hockey players could be until they played with/against the Beast players.  

Do you think Ice hockey can grow in India?

Absolutely!  It continues to grow every year and I believe it will continue to grow as more equipment gets donated, more players have an opportunity to play, and more regions build ice rinks, whether big or small.  As they say in Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come.”  That is true for both players and coaches.  Earlier this year we held our first ever coaching programs in Mumbai and Cochin, which is in the southern state of Kerala.  If there’s a rink in a mall somewhere in the country, we’re happy to go there and help them start a hockey program and help see it grow over the years.  That being said, there needs to be investment from public and private entities within India in order for it to gain popularity on a wide-scale.  Without that level of support, it will always remain a tiny niche.  There’s a need for more facilities and for importers/distributors of equipment to help outfit the players at the respective facilities.

              The beautiful Out door ice Rink in Ladakh, India.

How long have you coach India’s national team?

I was the Head Coach in 2009 and from 2012-2015.  The team didn’t compete in 2010 and my assistant coach extraordinaire: Hakim Giri, gave it a go behind the bench in 2011.  In 2016, I handed off the head coaching duties to Shomit Datta, whom I invited to be a part of the event in Brampton and did a great job with the team.  He’s a very experienced coach, and I was happy to hand the reins over to him.  For the future, who knows…

What are your future plans now that you are no longer coaching India?

Beyond the national team, there’s always coaching going on in India through The Hockey Foundation.  We’ll keep on doing that program for as long as we can, as we look to expand to other countries, and also focus some efforts at home in the US and Canada, as there are many communities we can help via hockey here.  I am currently assisting a junior college program in Quebec City, CEGEP Saint Lawrence Champlain.

Will India be at the 2017 Asian Winter Games?

India wants to participate in the Asian Winter Games in Japan in 2017, but is in need of funding to ensure the players, coaches and officials can make the trip.

What is your favorite NHL team and player?

As a child I was a die-hard New York Islanders fan, and Pierre Turgeon was my favorite player.  Today, I don’t consider myself a die-hard fan of any team, but I do follow the Islanders, Rangers and Canadiens closer than the other 27 teams.

Q & A With The First Iranian Female Ice Hockey Player

Guila Mohajer paving the way for women’s ice hockey in Iran.

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Meet Guila Mohajer who is the first and only female Ice hockey player in Iran.  We like to thank Keith McAdams who introduce her to us and we had a opportunity to ask her a few questions about hockey in Iran.

Can you tells us a little bit about yourself ?

My name is Guila Mohajer. I am from Iran and among the first female group who began playing inline hockey in the country. That was about 12 years ago in my hometown of Rasht, a small green city near the Caspian Sea.
It was maybe twice I had encountered hockey on TV until now, not attracting me just because of the shape of the puck. But once my coach gave me a stick suggesting me to have a try at it.
I had an epiphany that inline hockey is exactly the sport I had always been looking for. The explosive moves I began to use in the games made me become fond of it more. However, despite of having strong boys’ teams, any girls’ teams could not be established in the city. We were even deprived of a coach after a while. The only thing which I could rely on was internet resources and our house’s backyard to learn the basic techniques of hockey.
4 years passed in this way until I graduated from the university in BS of Electronics Engineering and moved to the capital Tehran so that I could continue inline hockey with a team and coaches on the only rink specialized for inline hockey in the country at that time.
Meanwhile, the first women’s inline hockey league was also organized. So I passed the next 6 years by playing in annual leagues, tournaments and being a member of national team for Asian championships cup, giving up my field of study and working as an inline skating coach.
Then ice hockey opened a new world much more enjoyable, exciting and greater to me. In a way that all my dreams became finding a way to improve in it as much as I can. I have even made a decision to put all my efforts to find opportunities to improve my coaching skills so that I can help to the development of this beautiful sport in my country.

How did you discover the game of ice hockey?

I always had a desire to try ice hockey after I attended the first ice skating coaching program in Iran. That was such an amazing experience and it lead me to start seriously searching for a proper opportunity to be able to try all aspects of ice hockey and Turkey gave it to me for the first time last year.

What attract you to the game of ice hockey?

Ice hockey for me is a mixture of many amazing features :
The feeling that a sheet of ice gives me by just gliding over it, the sound of ice cracking beneath my feet while making such fantastic explosive moves, the blowing of breeze while speeding up, the art shown by the dexterity of hands and feet in the techniques, the demanding of ultimate teamwork, concentration and mental abilities to win…

All these attributes come together in ice hockey make it an all-in-one sport for me so that I can find everything I want from sports in it.


Outside of yourself are there any other women that play ice hockey?

At the present time, there is just me who plays ice hockey professionally. But I am hopeful that by establishing more facilities throughout the country the number will increase rapidly in near future.

At the moment you are practicing by yourself, do have any plans in joining a club team in the

Last season Turkey gave me an opportunity for the first time to join one of its great teams.
I’d like to thank everybody who made this wonderful experience happen for me. I meet lots of great coaches and players, received lots of favors and gained lots of valuable experiences there.
Totally it was a turning point in my life and hockey.
Now, my dream is to play in a country which has a great passion and professional facilities and environment for hockey to improve faster and reach it’s full potential.  I haven’t found yet, but I am seriously searching, ready to go to extremes and hopefully waiting to find this opportunity to achieve my goals.


Right now Iran has Inline hockey, but are there any future plans to have organize ice hockey leagues in the country?

I can see great tendency about it among both athletes and officials. There is such great desire that I think establishing ice hockey rinks in different parts of the country will absolutely lead to formation of such leagues immediately.

Are there any future plans to form a Iran Women’s National Team?

At the moment, the lack of facilities makes situation hard for it to happen. I think everything depends on the expanding of facilities in this sport.

Women have just recently been allowed to attend live sporting events in Iran, how has this helped women sports?

This could definitely be a turning point in Iran’s women sports, If continuing. It highlights women sports in the society more and by increasing motivation among female athletes and sponsors, It makes women sports boom faster.

Iran has just form a Men’s National team to compete at the Asian Winter Games. When do you think a women’s team will play at a major event?

It depends on the officials decisions, of course, because of the lack of financial resources and facilities the major focus is on men’s team right now to start competing in such events. This will surely pave the way for more women ice hockey too. However, there are lots of women players who want to keep up with the men internationally, and their drive can overcome obstacles in playing at such events.

Is the game of Ice hockey shown on Television?

Right after planning to form the Men’s National team, for the first time we had live stream of the games from the 2016 world championships on TV, but I think if there is a strong plan to develop Iran’s ice hockey program it should be shown much more of it on TV,  because it influences a lot.

Is there Anything else you would like to say to the Iranian people about the game?

I’d like to tell the Iranians that ice hockey is a wonderful sport, full of excitement which girls and boys, women and men of every age can enjoy. Your support by any means can play an important role in the development of this great sport and as a result benefiting of its amazing features among yourself and our community.

I’d also like to tell our female athletes interested in hockey that there are lots of deficiencies and barriers in women ice hockey in many other countries too. But I’ve seen a lots of women of all ages from different countries whose passion of ice hockey makes them keep going on and overcome the difficulties to enjoy what they love. So we can still find ways to enjoy hockey and make others enjoy too.

Q & A with Bruce Callow!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_1180/knights-2.jpg

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Posted July 18, 2015

We caught up with Bruce Callow a Canadian who is now running an Ice Hockey program in Costa Rica.

Can you introduce yourself to our audience and give us a brief history on how hockey got started in Costa Rica?

I am from Calgary, Alberta and grew up playing hockey in the Brentwood neighborhood of the city.In 1996 I had been living here for 3 years and was missing playing ice hockey. That same year I heard that a local mall being built at the time planned to install a synthetic ice surface in the middle of their food court. I offered my services to the mall administration to start a hockey program and they hired me. A few months later I also started giving hockey classes at the rink at the Castillo Country Club which has a real ice surface.

When was the Castillo Knights Hockey Club established and who do they play?

The Castillo Knights were established in 1996 as a recreational hockey program at the Castillo Country Club located in the highland above the city of Heredia. We mostly play scrimmages amongst ourselves but occasionally we play teams from outside the club, most recently against United World College and Country Day School. Some years ago we played against a visiting team from Canada called the Air Canada Flying Pirates. In the coming months we will be playing games against a team from California, the Costa Rican roller hockey team and possibly a team from the Falkland Islands.,f_auto,h_413,w_620/v1428099620/qofczuinyqtq5bresd8v.jpg

Where dose the funding come from to keep the ice hockey program going?

The Castillo Country Club maintains the rink and gives us the ice times to run the classes. Most of our hockey equipment and skates have come from donations from the NHLA`s Goals and Dreams fund. Over the years we have received important sponsorship support from Snickers and individual sponsors as well.

Where do players and coaches come from to play and teach ice hockey in Costa Rica?

I am from Calgary, we have another Canadian coach who is Serge Salvador ( from Montreal) and our other coach is David Vargas who is from Costa Rican.

There are plans in the works to have an old timers program, what is the goal of this program?

This year our Oldtimers program is really kicking into gear and we are getting more and more players signing up for it. Coach Serge Salvador is in charge of this group. It requires a special touch to teach beginners who are in their 40s and 50s and he is doing an amazing job. Another way we are getting older guys involved in hockey is encouraging them to join their kids on the ice who are already in the program. This creates a really fun and family oriented atmosphere on the ice, like pond hockey on outdoor rinks in Canada.

Are there any future plans to start a ice hockey league in the country?

We hope at some point to be able to start a formal league. In the short term organizing tournaments is probably the best way for us to move forward.

You are on verge of establishing the Costa Rica Ice hockey Association, what is the long term vision for this Association?

The formation of an Ice Hockey Association would be an important step towards us getting affiliated with the IIHF. Costa Rica could then step out on the world stage as a competitive ice hockey nation just like Mexico and some other countries in Latin America.

Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once paid a visit to Castillo Country Club how did he help boost the ice hockey program?

The visit of Prime Minister Harper to our rink in 2011 was the catalyst that led to the expansion of the rink last year. There had been discussion at the Castillo Club for many years about modernizing and expanding the rink but after his visit the project got put on the front burner by the Castillo board of directors,  and got completed. PM Harper brought us a hockey net too. We were invited to the Pan American ice hockey tournament in Mexico and hope in the future to be able to compete in it . It depends if we can find the sponsorship to pay for it.


Are there any plans in the works to play in the Pan American ice hockey tournament in Mexico?

We were invited to the Pan American ice hockey tournament in Mexico and hope in the future to be able to compete in it . It depends if we can find the sponsorship to pay for it.

When you first got started in establishing an ice hockey program in Costa Rica, did you ever think to yourself what I am doing here?

Not really, at the heart of it all I just wanted to be around hockey in some way and have my two sons, Kenny and Tony grow up with it. Now they are 17 and 20 and are assistant coaches.

Can you tell us what is the one unique thing about playing ice hockey in Costa Rica?

Ice hockey is a niche sport here in Costa Rica so we attract a certain amount of “characters” to our program as well as kids with special needs that use hockey as a way to work through different things. Hockey is incredible for building self esteem in kids, especially kids with special needs. A favorite part for me is feeling tired and happy after a hard practice on a Sunday morning, having a typical Costa Rican lunch at the staff cafeteria with my sons and then walking outside the building into the lush, tropical highland beauty of Costa Rica. It doesn`t get much better than that.

Q & A With Karim Kerbouche

algeria flag

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

From August  9, 2014

We had the great pleasure of interviewing Karim Kerbouche who had a major impact in starting the Algerian Ice Hockey Association.

You are widely considered starting the Algeria Ice Hockey Association can you tell us a little more about yourself?

I’m born in London, UK, with Algerian background. I started playing ice hockey in London at around aged 13, playing junior and then senior in the English national league. I’ve also studied sports management in college.

What is the future of ice hockey in Algeria?

Progress is slow unfortunately, it’s not easy to introduce a new sport to Algeria, the problem is mainly with the government, they’re slightly behind the times when it comes to supporting new sports. We do however have quite a lot of public support, almost 100,000 likes on our facebook page, and with the future projects with Morocco and Tunisia I feel Algerian hockey has a bright future.

There is no ice rinks in Algeria, are there any future plans in build one?

There is currently one ice rink in Algeria which opened this year, it’s small, I believe 300 meters squared, in Algeria’s 2nd city Oran.
There is talk of full size rinks but nothing concrete, with the growing wealth in Algeria and people seeking more leisure activities I very much expect to see a full size ice rink in the next couple of years.

If and when there is an ice rink in the country do you think a league can be form?

There will be a league, after discussion with Morocco and Tunisia, and advice from the IIHF, the aim will be to have a cross country North African league, I feel it’s very important for us to develop both our senior and junior hockey together, I think it’s the only way you’ll see any of us compete in a world championship one day.

Ice hockey is growing in Africa countries like Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt have started to play the game and South Africa have been playing for a long time is there an African Cup in the future?

I think so, we all want it, we even discussed it a couple of weeks ago, the problem has always been the funding, it’s very expensive for us and Morocco and Tunisia to get to South Africa, ideally we’d need a big sponsor or IIHF assistance. Expect to see a North African ‘Maghreb cup’ in the near future though.

Can you please tell us what is the Maghreb Cup?

The Maghreb Cup will be a tournament involving the three North African countries of the Maghreb region, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. We hope to have the first one in 2015.

Algeria has a very small synthetic ice rinks that are suitable for children to learn the basics. Have you or anyone else started children hockey programs in the country?

We haven’t yet and that’s something that really disappoints me. For me this is biggest priority now.

Does the Algeria Ice Hockey Association have plans to become IIHF member in the near future?

Definitely, hopefully we can apply in 2015

Outside from yourself who are the movers and shakers of Algerian ice hockey?

Our captain Harond Litim, well established in French hockey, was a big hit on a French comedian, remi gaillard, prank video. He has his finger in all sorts of pies, MMA, water sports, rap videos. He also puts a lot of work into Algerian hockey.
We have Rouen junior elite coach Nordine Mahdidi, he played with us initially and will now be working on coaching with us.

Many Algerian players play aboard, what is the level of play for Algerian players and who would you say is the best player today?

We have some very good players, mostly in France.Benchabane who plays in ligue Magnus is probably the top player,Chougui who just signed for asniere is a very good player, our captain Litim of course, and two former ligue Magnus players Fahas and Sadani. There’s a few young guys playing junior in France and Canada who we hope to come through.

Algerian National Team have not played for sometime now are there and plans to play any games in 2014-15?

There will be games in 2015, I’m pretty confident the North African tournament will happen, I’d like to add a couple more fixtures on top as well.

You scored the first ever goal for the Algerian national team during the 2008 Arab Cup against Morocco, what was the feeling like?

It was a dream come true for me, firstly to play for Algeria then to actually score, it was amazing, still the highlight in my hockey life.

What is your favorite NHL team?

I don’t follow the NHL much anymore, when I was a kid I always liked Anaheim, now I just like to watch the teams who play a tough physical style.

Who is your favorite player past or present?

When I was younger I liked Paul Kariya, I also liked the enforcers. I follow them more than the skilled guys. These days, I like how Chicago guys Kane and Toews play, I like Kadri. It’s good to see an Arab in the NHL, and I guess St. Louis enforcer Reeves.

What is the one thing about hockey that you like the best?

I like the physical side of ice hockey. I’m a big football (soccer) fan but I always felt it was missing the physical side of things. I think hockey has a good mix of skill and toughness.

Thank You for you time and we wish you the best of luck going forward.
Thank you very much, we appreciate all the support we can get.


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