By Martin Merk – IIHF.com
The International Ice Hockey Federation grows to 77 countries after Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines have been admitted as new associate members.
Ice hockey has been played in Indonesia, the largest island country of Southeast Asia with over 13,000 islands, since 1996 and been organized by the Federasi Hoki Es Indonesia for several years. Indonesia is the world’s fourth-most populous country with 258 million people, more than half of them living on the island of Java. That’s where the country’s three ice rinks are located.
There are currently five senior clubs and three youth hockey clubs teams involving 112 players. The Sky Rink on the third level of the Mall Taman Anggrek in Jakarta Barat was opened in 1996 and has an ice sheet of 1,248 square metres. In recent years two more rinks opened with Gardenice (800 square metres) in Bandung and the 24-on-55-metre BX Rink at the Bintaro Jaya Xchange Mall in Tangsel in the Jakarta region that has become the country’s premier ice sport facility.
“Becoming a member shows to everyone that anything is possible. A winter sport can grow in tropical countries, more ice rinks can open and more people could enjoy the thrill of ice hockey sport,” said President Joko Widodo. “Our saying here is: the first time you try ice hockey, you will fall. The second time you try ice hockey, you fall in love.”
Nepal is a landlocked country with over 31 million inhabitants in the Himalayas area with China bordering in the north and India in the south. With an ideal climate for ice hockey, the country wants to start organizing the sport in the country. Currently there are no ice rinks but four outdoor inline hockey rinks in the capital of Kathmandu, Pokara, Ilam and Kavree. The association was founded in 2014.
Nepal Ice Hockey Association President Lok Bahadur Shahi handed over a symbolic present to IIHF President Rene Fasel in form of a Khukuri knife, a symbol of Nepalese independence.
“With the support of the government and the IIHF, we are looking to build a new chapter in Nepalese sports with ice hockey,” he gold IIHF.com recently during a visit at the IIHF headquarters in Zurich and hopes that the first ice rink can soon be built in the capital Kathmandu – the land has already been acquired. Currently ice hockey can only be played on natural ice during winter months.
Like Indonesia, the Philippines are an island country in Southeast Asia consisting of over 7,000 islands and with a population of 100 million people.
211 players from five clubs are registered in the Philippines where four ice rinks can be used, the main one being the SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink in Pasay City next to the capital of Manila. The other ice rinks are at Megamall, Southmall and the Seaside Cebu Ice Skating Rink.
Click on the video link on the right to watch a presentation of ice hockey in the Philippines.
In 2017 the Southeast Asian Games are set to have an ice hockey tournament for the first time ever. The event that has taken place biannually since 1959 will take place in Malaysia and with Indonesia and the Philippines joining previous Southeast Asian IIHF members Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, all these countries could potentially enter a team.
In addition to accepting three new members, the Qatar Ice Hockey Federation – until now an associate member – has been awarded full membership.