Category: Africa (Page 1 of 3)

African Ice Hockey Players Gain Game Experience in Japan

Participants in the Friendship League’s hockey tour of Japan

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The collaboration between the African ice hockey players and the Friendship League exemplifies the power of sports in bringing people together and breaking down barriers. By promoting inclusivity and diversity within the world of ice hockey, initiatives like this tour help to create a more interconnected and understanding global community. Through continued efforts to support and develop the sport internationally, the Friendship League is making a positive impact on the lives of players and fans alike.

While ice hockey may not have the same level of popularity as other sports in Africa, there are efforts being made to introduce and develop the sport in the region. The small but determined group of players involved in ice hockey are playing a crucial role in raising awareness and building a community around the sport on the continent. Their dedication and hard work are helping to pave the way for the growth of ice hockey in Africa.

Recently, a group of players from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Kenya embarked on a tour of Japan to enhance their skills and gain valuable in-game experience. This opportunity was particularly significant as it is often challenging for these players to acquire such experiences in their home countries. The tour was made possible through the collaboration of the Friendship League and the Tokyo Canadians, a well-established community of expatriates in Japan who have brought their passion for the game to the Japanese capital. The Friendship League, founded in 2016, is an organization that utilizes the power of sports to promote cross-cultural engagement and tourism.

The Friendship League has organized hockey events in various countries across the globe, including Ecuador, Egypt, and North Korea. Now, Japan has been included in the list of countries where the Friendship League has successfully staged hockey events. This expansion of the league’s reach to Japan further demonstrates its commitment to fostering international connections and promoting unity through the universal language of sports.

A group of six African players recently participated in a tour of Japan, which included two games held at the DyDo Drinco Ice Arena, previously known as the Higashi-Fushimi Ice Arena, located on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Benjamin Mburu and Faith Sihoho were the representatives from Kenya within the group of six. The other members were Harond Litim, who came from Algeria, Mahmoud Ghonaim from Egypt, Charles Balha from Morocco, and Nadja Giessen-Hood from South Africa.

It was a momentous occasion for Sihoho as she ventured beyond the borders of Africa for the very first time, opening up a world of new experiences and opportunities. Meanwhile, Mburu’s name became known to many after his participation in the 2018 visit to Canada as part of the Kenyan national team, where he had the privilege of meeting and sharing the ice with the legendary NHL figure, Sidney Crosby.

A Canadian coach sharing the knowledge of hockey in Kenya

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.

Information regarding the building of the largest ice hockey rink in Africa, located in Rabat, is outlined below.

Largest Ice Rink in Rabat

By National Team of Ice Hockey

Morocco has witnessed the establishment and commencement of numerous projects and workshops, with work progressing in all directions and across several cities, particularly prominent ones. These endeavors are aligned with the Kingdom’s policy and strategy to emerge as a frontrunner among nations, both on the African continent and globally.

At present, Moroccan officials are particularly focused on sports projects. A range of endeavors have been initiated, such as the establishment of football fields, indoor halls, and a specialized ice hockey facility. This demonstrates the prioritization of sports development within the nation.

Under the authorization of the Ministry of Sports, the National Agency for Public Utilities has commenced a consultation process to conclude the first phase of this project. The successful completion of this endeavor calls for an investment of around 246 million dirhams or 24,398,710.50 in us dollars.

Over the course of 18 months, the construction work for the new sports hall in Rabat is projected to be completed. Boasting an expansive area of 2,524 square meters, the ice hockey rink within the facility will hold the distinction of being the largest of its kind in all of Africa. Furthermore, the building will encompass a range of other sports facilities for a verity of sports.

 

Kenya’s Ice Lions Dream Of Roaring Big At Olympic Games In Near Future

Action between Ice Lions and Team World at the 2nd edition of the Jamhuri Cup at Panari Sky Centre

By Omondi OnyattaCapital Sports

For many, the mention of ice hockey brings to mind the likes of United States, Canada, Nordic countries as well as Russia where the sport is as popular as football and athletics are in Kenya.

However, the sport is increasingly taking root in the country with stakeholders determined to tap in as many talents as possible and transform the country into a powerhouse in Africa and beyond.

Tim Colby is the coach of the national team, Ice Lions, and has been working closely with other stakeholders to grow the sport within the country and achieve the ultimate dream of Kenya one day gracing the Olympic Games.

The Canadian describes it as an exciting task that has sometimes encountered headwinds but is nonetheless soldiering on relentlessly.

“We’ve been on ice for five or six years except for the Covid period in the last couple of years. We started out slow…we had like new players who joined and then Covid hit. That really set us back a little bit,” Colby says.

He adds: “So, we picked up again recently. We were off the ice for quite some time for financial reasons. We couldn’t afford it…ice hockey is very expensive. We are back now, we have some funding to keep us going for a few months. I think we are going to see a lot of progress with the team.”

Part of the master plan to take Kenyan ice hockey to the next level is to compete in international matches in addition to training camps outside the country.

“Over the next year or two, it looks like we are going to have international trips. We have been invited to various places, including South Africa, who have a national team who will be competing in the Olympics qualifiers. That is our aim as Ice Lions…to qualify for the Olympics eventually,” the coach explains.

Dwelling on these international trips, Colby is optimistic they will introduce the players on what is required to compete at the highest level of the sport.

“We have some teams in North Africa…Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia…they are made up of players who play in North Africa. Then we have South Africa…so if we get down to South Africa next year for training, they have a full Olympic sized ice rink. We have a smaller ice here so we play three against three plus goalies…there they play five against five, which is the international standard,” Colby explains.

He adds: “We are hoping to get down there and do some training, which will be a great experience for the team. They have a strong program in South Africa and it’s a good model for us to learn how to organize and better play.”

Equally important for the growth of ice hockey in Kenya is training programs’ for local coaches to impart them with up-to-date knowledge of the game in line with world class standards.

“We can learn a lot from the South Africans and also from the North Americans who have offered to host us. If we can get over there, we can have some of the Kenyans trained as certified coaches. There are programs’ you can train in Canada and the US in particular and become a certified coach,” Colby explains.

He adds: “I was a certified coach in Canada but now we need the Kenyan coaches to step up…and they are doing it. They are training our players in the youth development programs’ but it’s a complex game so it is important for our coaches to be trained in certified international.”

Collaboration with NHL

Key to the success of this multi-pronged strategy is partnerships with public and private entities to enable the team acquire the necessary resources.

Much has been witnessed of the impact of the National Basketball Association (NBA) activities on the continent in the past decade and Colby is optimistic that the same could amount out of a collaboration with the National Hockey League (NHL).

“We have started some discussions with them…the professional league in North America. They are very interested…they didn’t know about ice hockey in Kenya or anywhere in Africa. They were very surprised and very happy when we sent them some videos and pictures. One team has reached out and they may come here when the NHL season is over to meet us and talk about a partnership,” the coach reveals.

The potential collaboration with NHL would resolve one of the challenges impeding the growth of ice hockey in the country, which is lack of regular matches in the national team.

Colby attributes that to the lack of facilities to play on, with Panari Sky Centre the only one available in the East and Central Africa region.

“Here in Kenya, there is only one ice rink. In Canada, where I grew up, there are thousands of ice rinks and every city has several so you can always find ice time to practice. This is a big challenge over here in Kenya,” he says.

His sentiments are echoed by national team player Arnold Mburu who adds that there are not much opponents they can test themselves against regularly.

“The matches are not as often as other sports mainly because of the unavailability of other teams to play with because as of right now we are the only team in East and Central Africa. The foreigners who come to play against us are expats, diplomats who come from all over the world to give us a challenge,” Mburu says.

He adds: “It is also difficult for most of us to find opportunities to train and play because ice time is pretty expensive. You can’t just have a game every month because it requires funds so it is challenging.”

Mburu is crossing his fingers that the government will come on board and support the growth of the sport, including construction of more facilities.

“Many people aren’t aware that ice hockey exists in Kenya. I’d love for the government to dip its hand in ice hockey. I’d love for fans to come out in their numbers and watch our matches. Hopefully, in the future, we might go to the Olympics,” he says.

His coach reveals they have made overtures to the government via the Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, to aid them in their plan to grow the sport.

“We are looking for a longer term partnership, including with the government of Kenya. We have approached the CS and his team about getting some sponsorship and support from the ministry,” Colby says.

Plenty of potential

The Ice Lion’s latest match was last Saturday against Team World to who they lost 12-2 in Pre-Jamhuri Day tie at the Panari Centre.

Commenting on the result, Colby believes the odds were always against his side considering the caliber of their opponents, most of who have played their sport since their childhood.

“I warned Team Kenya that they had to be sharp today because these guys want to win badly. They played really well but Team Kenya we were a bit flat today and you can’t afford to do that against an experienced team some of who are former ice hockey professional players. Today was not a good day for Team Kenya but it is a good lesson…you learn more from losing,” the coach observes.

Jukka Korhonen, who was part of the victorious team, feels their opponents showed them a lot of respect on the day but is nonetheless positive about the trajectory of the sport in the country.

“In today’s game, they had too much respect for us. Normally on Wednesdays, they usually compete well against us. However, ice hockey in Kenya has grown over time…the boys are really interested in the sport. It’s always fun to play over here, I really enjoy it,” Korhonen says.

He admits he is in awe of Kenyans’ physicality and believes the team can go places if they work on their technical aspects of the game.

“Many players are spending hours in ice skating, which tells me they are very interested in the sport. What they have is enormous speed on ice…now what they need is more technical aspects and more ice time and we will see them in a few years competing all over Africa and whatever competitions,” he says.

Looking onward

Reflecting on his journey on the ice rink, Mburu says he has enjoyed playing ice hockey and does not regret exchanging basketball shoes in favour of skates.

“Ice hockey is fun and exciting. I find it way more intense and more of a team sport. I played basketball in high school and at the University of Eldoret but I find ice hockey to be more fun,” he says.

Colby is hopeful more will follow Mburu’s cue and join the sport in droves – a process that is not rocket science to anyone interested.

“We have a youth program for training so once they can skate fairly well they can come out on our Sunday youth training program. We have two age divisions…we even have 7-8 year old’s that come out to play. You first need to learn how to skate. You can come out to Panari, the ice rink is really good. Come out and start training and then graduate to ice hockey with the Ice Lions training program ” he explains.

In a football-mad country that has enjoyed unparalleled success in athletics, ice hockey may seem like a fish among sharks in an ocean.

However, stakeholders are not about to develop cold feet in their quest to grow it into a major sport in Kenya and beyond.

Roman Rotenberg Spoke About The Prospects For Cooperation With African Countries In Hockey

Source : Ice Hockey Federation of Russia

The Russia-Africa summit took place in St. Petersburg. Vice-President of the RHF, head coach of SKA and the Russia U25 team became one of the speakers at the strategic session “Sport: a bridge of friendship between Russia and Africa.” Roman Rotenberg spoke about the prospects for cooperation with African countries in ice hockey and outlined the main aspects and areas of cooperation, and also spoke about how hockey rapprochement will contribute to the implementation of the most important state task – the development of international cooperation with the countries of the Black Continent.

Roman Rotenberg, FHR First Vice President:
 The President of our country, Vladimir Putin, emphasizes that now is the time of opportunity. New opportunities are opening up in the world of ice hockey. Our sport has a historic chance to become the number one sport on the planet. In order to create the prerequisites for such progress, it is necessary to involve new continents in ice hockey. Now we are deepening our cooperation with different countries and we see that both in India and in South Africa and other African states, the desire to develop the game of ice hockey is becoming stronger. There are great traditions of team sports: cricket, football, and field hockey. This means that there are all opportunities for the successful popularization of the “puck”. The sooner we start, the sooner we will see results.

The development of international cooperation is the most important state task. Sports diplomacy will also help to fulfill it. Sport is multifaceted, it is part of the culture and helps to promote it. Emotional bonds are created: when we compete, we become friends. Sports cooperation is not limited to tournaments – it includes science, business, creation of new jobs and contribution to improving the health of the population.

By cooperating in ice hockey, we can create new bridges of friendship between Russia and African countries. The first factor of rapprochement will be the exchange of experience. Now interest in our sport is growing in South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia. We invite these and all other African states to develop the game. Russia is ready to provide methodological and organizational support to meet the requirements of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Our country is one of the strongest hockey powers, the experience we have accumulated will certainly be useful for Africa. And to popularize hockey, we can organize exhibition matches, team gatherings and conduct educational events.

The second factor of rapprochement is the development and improvement of the system of children’s sports. Our developments and innovations have been successfully implemented at the SKA Academy, which unites 13 schools with more than 3,000 pupils. They are trained under the Red Machine National Hockey Player Training Program, created with the support of the Ministry of Sports. Our teams take leading places in all-Russian tournaments. Established on the basis of the experience of SKA in Moscow 5 years ago, the Red Machine Junior school quickly became one of the leading schools in Moscow. Our philosophy is the development of a harmonious personality, the right combination of sports and children’s education. All this is an excellent basis for the creation of similar schools in African countries.

The third factor is technology and infrastructure. Our country has qualified coaches, modern sports arenas and equipment. Our human and intellectual potential is open to Africa. We have the strongest expertise in the construction of efficient high-tech facilities and are ready to help in this area.

The fourth factor is business development. We have an understanding of the market and technology, African countries have great production potential. We can create joint production of a wide variety of sports products. Joint investment in these areas, the creation of new production chains is the key to the effective progressive development of our countries. And today we can implement all these projects directly. At the same time, we look at development in a complex way. Sport is a powerful connecting element. The effective development of the economies of partner countries based on sports links is a realistic achievable goal. We already have good examples of cooperation with China and Uzbekistan in our work. We know in practice how sport helps to develop business relations. And today, economic ties with these countries are among the strongest.

Finally, in the 21st century, the potential for technological and educational projects is enormous. The most important task is the joint development of the creative industry, digital, games of the future, which involve more and more with people around the world.

Our countries are moving towards each other, and by joint efforts we can achieve great success and victories, including in the game of ice  hockey.

National Ice hockey team set to tour USA and Canada

The Kenya Ice lions hockey team pose for a photo with playing equipments donated by Former Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman with Kenyan routes Johnny Oduya after a playing session at the Panari Solar Ice Rink in Nairobi on July 13, 2022.

Kenya Ice Lions captain Benjamin Mburu is glad to be among the pioneers of ice hockey that is slowly gaining interest in Kenya.

The 28- year-old center player feels honoured and privileged to skipper the national team that has started to go places.

The team is already planning for a tour of the USA in August and Canada in December where the players will gain vital skills from world beaters contesting the coveted National Hockey League (NHL).

It will be the second time that the Kenyan side will be visiting North America following their successful tour of the region four years ago.

“We gained vital lessons during our visit to Canada in 2018,” Mburu told Standard Sports.

*The trip completely transformed the team for the better.”

After Canada the Kenyan outfit had a change to travel to South Africa where they did a commercial advert for e-commerce firm Ali Baba.

They Also had a opportunity to attend the Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to learn more about the game.

Mburu is definitely happy with the rise of the sport after he was introduced to the game by a close friend in 2015.

His dedication and hard work has made him scale up the ladder to a point where he is now the nation team skipper.

For one to be a force to reckon with in the game, Mburu says they need to be resilient.

He warns that the sport is quite physical and very unforgiving.

“There are lots of body checks during play, so you need to train hard and cultivate a mental fortitude ,” he advises.

Mburu believes Kenya has the potential to become a powerhouse in the sportin the continent if the team gets proper playing gear and an Olympic size ice rink.

University Students From Ghana Dream To Grow Hockey On Concrete And Ice

Blader Skates Ghana

By Kyle Drinnan – The Puck Authority

In life, we have a habit of making possible ideas impossible. In the same vein, we make those possible ideas too good that it becomes unrealistic. To dismiss the idea that ice hockey can be played around the world, like in Africa, is making the possible, impossible. But looking at the harsh realities that the sport has, no history, not a suitable climate, and lack of facilities is the realistic side of growing the sport.

But it’s possible. South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia are the only African nations to be represented in the IIHF, with three of them joining in the past 10 years. Even without a membership, Egypt and Kenya have made bigger steps in their quest to join the organization. Now in Ghana, there are grassroots organizations that are ready to make the impossible, possible. Ice hockey in Ghana.

BLADER SKATES GHANA is a not-for-profit organization that wants to make a pathway for ice hockey in Ghana. It was founded by Bright Ababio Mensah, and was co-founded by Henry D.K Mensah and Kwame Sefa Johnson. It is located in the capital of the country, Accra, and is found in the University of Cape Coast. The organization is focusing on all kinds of skating, including skateboarding and inline hockey. The dream of most members is to help develop ice hockey, but they are focusing on what they currently have, and without an ice rink, there are easier sports to first develop.

“Yes, there is. Both are somewhat of a contact sport, except bodychecks are not allowed in inline hockey and inline roller skates are used instead of ice skates, as is used in ice hockey,” said Bright Ababio Mensah, founder of BLADER SKATES GHANA. “The equipment is similar.”

Although similar, ice hockey and inline hockey in terms of governance are very much different. Ice hockey, of course, is governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), and while inline hockey used to be governed by the IIHF, in recent years, World Skate has taken over to develop the sport. World Skate has a lot of sports under its organization. The most popular sport in its arsenal would be skateboarding, which made its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While Ghana has no organization with the IIHF, they are members of World Skate. However, Mensah said that Ghana Skaters Association, the one connected with World Skate, has had its activity halted and has been dormant for a while.

So, BLADER SKATES GHANA picked up the responsibility as soon as it was established in 2019. Since then, the group’s numbers have grown and taken off, having seen registration trend upwards since 2020. The group wants to start educating its population on the sports, but unlike hockey organizations, they have many different sports they want to market to their citizens.

“(We want) public education on skating, and the development of roller sports in Ghana are two of the major aims of our organization,” Mensah said. “So, we try to link the skating to a lot of sports disciplines in the likes of roll-ball, 100 meters and relay race, as well as high and long jumps, hockey, speed skating, and many others.”

It is also tough, as there is only one place to buy equipment, and that is in the nation’s capital, Accra. However, interest has started to show in more provinces around the country, and there are hopes that the interest will help make sports more accessible in the country.

Winter sports have a unique relationship with Ghana. Ghana is one of the rare countries in Africa that are involved with at least one of the seven sports bodies that make up the Winter Olympics. They are also in a more exclusive group where the country is involved with two.

Ghana is a member of both the International Ski Association (FIS) and the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF). Ghana has been in three Winter Olympics, with their first being in 2010 Vancouver. They missed out in Sochi, but were represented in Pyeongchang and Beijing.

Ghana’s first winter Olympic athlete, Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, has helped set up the Ghanaian Winter Olympic Association and hopes to build Ghana’s first artificial ski slope.

But right now, ice hockey is a far goal for Ghana. Even with Mensah’s interest, it is a long and winding road. However, the development of inline will help the future goal. Nations like Jamaica, and even places in the United States, have used an iceless hockey form to help teach the locals about the sport and get the government involved with the sport.

“We want to have started regional and nationwide inline hockey, and then would have been supported with at least one ice hockey rink to start training,” Mensah said, “and to host competitions for the whole of the West African Subregion.”

But right now, the organization needs equipment and training for inline hockey if they want to grow the sport. Any help, no matter how big or small, would be appreciated by BLADER SKATES GHANA.

Twitter: @bladerskatesgh
Instagram: @bladerskatesgh

Why Olympics silver medalist Oduya is on a mission to establish ice hockey in Kenya

Former Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman with Kenyan roots Johnny Oduya in action with the Kenya National team The Ice Lions hockey team at the Panari Solar Ice Rink on July 13, 2022.

Just like former US President Barack Hussein Obama, the life script of Winter Olympics ice hockey men’s silver medalist David Johnny Oduya quite reads the same.

They both had a white mother, and a black father who passed away when they were really young and the dads were from Kenya and of Luo descent.

Oduya, a two-time National Hockey League (NHL) champion is in the country this week for two missions; to support the establishment of ice hockey in Kenya and to trace his Luo roots in Kendu Bay, Karachuonyo Constituency in Homa Bay County where his late father hailed.

The former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman on Wednesday night took part in an exhibition game with the national team, the Ice Lions, at the Panari Ice Rink in Nairobi.

He played the full match where he also supported the budding local players with expensive standardized playing gear including gloves, hockey sticks, pads, jerseys, roller skates, bags, clothing, and other variety of gifts. He also furnished the players with technical skills of the game.

“The players have great potential, they are very good from what I had initially thought of them, and they have the commitment, the drive and the love for the sport.

“They love playing hockey more than anything else, I think that’s the most beautiful thing,” Oduya told Standard Sports.

From the match he played, Oduya believes Kenya has great potential to produce a professional player who can be a force in the NHL.

“For one to be a pro, they need to have passion, dedication, fun, persistence, and commitment.

“I mean they should just love what they do for a very long time. I have seen all these qualities from the game we just had,” he underscored.

The Stanley Cup champion is very confident that the sport will gradually pick up in Kenya after overseeing its establishment in Thailand ten years ago.

 “We went to Thailand in 2012 during the NHL break and helped develop the game and the players.

The sport has so far grown there, Thailand is building new rinks and more youths are loving the sport. They are playing it with passion.

“I strongly believe this will also be possible with Kenya as well, now that the country, at least, has an ice rink, one of the few ice hockey arenas in the continent,” he underlined.

Despite winning an Olympics silver with the Sweden national team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and bronze at the World Championships in Kloten, Switzerland in 2009, Oduya says his greatest moment in the sport was when he lifted the coveted NHL Stanley Cup with the dreaded Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015.

“Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in team sport. So I felt proud in those times as I’m the first player, of African heritage, from Europe to make that bold move to America to make that dream come true in my professional career,” he said.

Since his retirement from the sport four years ago, Oduya, 40, has been having a strong urge to spread the game in Africa, starting with Kenya.

It is on this note that he is also seizing the opportunity to establish a connection with his father’s roots. 

Oduya, whose mother is Swedish, will this weekend head to Kendu Bay where the remains of his father, who passed on in 1993, were buried.

“Just like Obama, I’m trying to know more about my roots, I feel there is a part of me in Karachuonyo that I need to explore. I want to know more about my people from my father’s side.

“I interacted with my father briefly, not that much, the last time he was in Sweden in 1993 shortly before he passed away.

“I have been looking forward to meeting my other family in Kenya for a very long time and I’m really excited about that,” he said.

  • David Johnny Oduya at a glance
  • Born: October 1, 1981 (age 40)
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
  • Weight: 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
  • Position: Defence
  • Shot: Left
  • Teams played for:

  • Djurgårdens IF
  • Frölunda HC
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Atlanta Thrashers
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Dallas Stars
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • National team: Sweden
  • NHL Draft: 221st overall, 2001 Washington Capitals
  • Playing career: 1999–2018
  • Medal record
  • Men’s ice hockey
  • Representing Sweden Sweden
  • Winter Olympics
  • Silver medal – second place  2014 Sochi        
  • World Championships
  • Bronze medal – third place  2009 Kloten
  • wards and honor        
  • NHL Stanley Cup (Chicago Blackhawks)   2013, 2015

Heronbridge College learner selected as part of South African U20 ice hockey team heading to Mexico

Nicholas Tylor in action in the World Championships in Bosnia.

Source: Fourway Review

Following a successful Ice Hockey World Championships in Bosnia in April, Heronbridge College learner and ice hockey player, Nicholas Tylor said he couldn’t wait for his next trip to Mexico in July.

Nicholas was part of the South Africa U18 National Ice Hockey team that recently won bronze in the World Championships, and will now represent his country at U20 level.

“It was an incredible opportunity for me to be a part of this national team and represent South Africa internationally. To be able to travel and play abroad against stronger teams will help improve the game for my team and myself.”
Nicholas, who started playing ice hockey eight years ago, hoped that the lessons learned at the World Championships would help him and the U20 national team to perform well in an upcoming competition in Mexico.

“I have no doubt that playing in the championships will enhance the level of play that we can bring home to South Africa. I’m so excited about travelling to Mexico. We will be playing against the Mexican team but as far as the other countries involved in the championship, we are still waiting for that confirmation.

South Africa back on the ice at IIHF World Championship after long break

Uthman Samaai has played for South Africa for nearly a decade, and played his college hockey at Nazareth College in New York.

By  Leonard Solms – ESPN

South Africa’s men’s ice hockey team will return to competitive action for the first time in nearly three years this weekend, as they host the 2022 IIHF World Championship Division III B in Cape Town.

From March 13-18, GrandWest Arena will host South Africa, Thailand, and Bosnia & Herzegovina in Division III B, with the teams playing each other twice. The side at the top of the standings will earn promotion to Division III A.

The Rhinos’ last competitive outing ended in relegation from the World Championship Division III A in Bulgaria, and then COVID-19 denied them a shot at promotion in 2020 and 2021.

As recently as 2015, South Africa played in Division II Group B. They were relegated that year and steadily fell down the Division III table before suffering yet another demotion four years later.

For context, the International Ice Hockey Federation divides teams into five divisions, with teams like the USA and Canada competing in the Championship division [16 teams]. Division II, which is South Africa’s target, features teams like China, Iceland, and Australia.

According to Rhinos captain Uthman Samaai, it has been difficult to replace the strong core of players that drove their success in 2015, and they’re only now finding their feet.

The costs associated with the game, which is not widely played at the tip of Africa where it very rarely drops to icy temperatures, prohibits new talent from rising from a grassroots level. Equipment is not readily available, and ice rinks are few and far between.

Samaai told ESPN: “Ice hockey is obviously a very expensive sport to play — especially in South Africa, because a lot of the stuff has to be imported.

“There was a period of time when there were older players leaving and the talent coming through wasn’t matching the experienced players leaving.

“We had a bit of a transformation for a couple of years, where we needed those older players to stay for a bit longer to give those younger players the opportunity to make mistakes.

“Since 2020, we’ve closed that gap very nicely. The younger players have a ton of experience and we only have one or two newcomers in the team this year, which is good to see.”

Despite lack of international action this decade, South Africa remain the top-ranked team in Africa despite their recent struggles and there is a contingent within the team that has overseas experience.

“I studied in Rochester, New York, for four years, where I played for [D3 school] Nazareth College. Cameron Birrell played a bunch of hockey in England and he played hockey in America growing up [with the Michigan Mountain Cats],” Samaai said.

“Reinhard Venter was playing [for Vermont Lumberjacks in the Easter Hockey League] before COVID and then his tournament got cut short, so he came home.”

That there is a team at all is impressive, given there is very little money in ice hockey in South Africa, and the players compete for the love of it in regional tournaments for small salaries. A number of players on the national team compete in the Gauteng Premier Hockey League [GPHL], which features 10 teams from Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Samaai, who most recently played for the Cape Town Kings in the WPIHL, works for the City of Cape Town’s media department, while his teammates’ day jobs vary tremendously.

He explained: “A few of [our players] are digital designers. We’ve got a couple of teachers. We’ve got a headmaster. We’ve got people who work for American companies and guys who work in crypto, a few students – one of them is studying mechanical engineering and the other is studying to be a priest.

“I think that we’ve got a very wide variety of people, but I guess that’s kind of what makes the team so nice. We come from very different backgrounds, but when we get together, it’s like magic.”

South Africa are aiming for immediate promotion to Division III A and, according to Samaai, will not be satisfied with anything less. The withdrawal of Hong Kong from the upcoming tournament at GrandWest has at least narrowed down their competition.

“The goal in 2020, when we got together, was to get back to Division II in the next five years. Obviously, we’re chasing that same goal,” Samaai said.

“This year, we want to win it. I don’t think that there’s anything less that we can really be proud of.

“Next year, in [Division] III [A], I think we would be happy with placing, and the following year, we want to win it. The three-year goal is basically to get back to Division II B.”

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