By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The geographical distance of approximately 12,000 miles between Ottawa and Nairobi, Kenya is quite significant, yet the sport of hockey has managed to create a connection between these two cities.

Ice hockey has found its way to Kenya, with adaptations made to accommodate the local environment.

Tim Colby, originally from Montreal and Ottawa, has taken on the responsibility of coaching the Kenyan Ice Lions, the top team in the country. Through his coaching role, Colby has been able to engage with and nurture the budding ice hockey talent in Kenya, showcasing the sport’s universal appeal and ability to transcend boundaries and continents.

Colby’s  coaching experience with the Kenyan Ice Lions was not part of his original plans. His involvement in coaching in Kenya was unplanned, originating from his collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency. Initially hesitant. Colby eventually recognized the increasing enthusiasm and involvement of Kenyans in hockey, which motivated him to fully embrace the coaching role.

After learning that Colby had dedicated a decade to coaching minor hockey in Ottawa, a group of people approached him to help take the sport to the next level. Despite their enthusiasm, Colby  agree to take on the role, foreseeing various obstacles that lay ahead. Some of the challenges  included the difficulty of acquiring essential equipment and the inconvenience of having to take an eight-hour flight to a faraway pro shop just to purchase skates. Furthermore, Colby noticed a trend where individuals who traveled to Nairobi for work and played hockey would often leave their gear behind when they returned home, leaving local players with the necessary equipment to continue playing the sport effectively.

Despite this, the passion exhibited by the people of Kenya for hockey did not go unrecognized. Notably, Alibaba provided generous sponsorship for numerous Kenyan players to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, which helped to boost interest in the sport. Furthermore, Tim Horton’s, a well-known Canadian company, arranged for Kenyan players to travel to Canada. While in Canada, these players had the amazing chance to skate with esteemed hockey players like Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon.

The commitment and enthusiasm displayed by the Kenyan community towards hockey has undeniably attracted the interest of numerous individuals. Despite Colby’s initial doubts, it is clear that there is immense potential for the sport to flourish and progress in Kenya. The backing from esteemed organizations such as Alibaba and Tim Horton’s has not only opened doors for Kenyan players to engage in global competitions but has also facilitated connections with renowned hockey athletes. With this remarkable momentum, it is evident that the future of hockey in Kenya is filled with immense promise.

Kenya currently has just one ice rink situated in a Nairobi hotel, notably smaller than the typical hockey rinks around the world. Kenyans have embraced a high-speed 3-on-3 hockey variant devoid of icing or offsides. Colby envisions this distinctive gameplay style gaining broader recognition worldwide.

Kenya has expressed interest in joining the International Ice Hockey Federation, following in the footsteps of South Africa and other African nations that have recently join. With plans to host an all African 3-on 3
ice hockey tournament in 2025.

Kenya aims to further develop the sport in the region. Despite the challenges posed by limited resources and facilities, the passion for ice hockey in Kenya continues to grow, attracting both players and spectators alike.