By Nepal Ansar
Taking quick glides across an ice rink, buckled in skates, carefully shuttling the puck across the rink, players are focused on just one thing… The goal!
Nepal’s dedication towards sport is not unknown to the world but when it comes to ice hockey, the rush is different!
NIHA for Nepal Ice Hockey
Nepal saw new hope for Ice hockey when the Nepal Ice Hockey Association (NIHA) was established in 2014. The federation was formed with the following goals in mind:
- Preparing Ice Hockey players for international level
- Conduct ice hockey tournaments and other games across the country
- Preparing and creating ice hockey teams to represent Nepal for different categories and participation in international tournaments
- Making contributions to the society and the world with Ice Hockey
The first national team was formed in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu in the same year. Currently, the country has no indoor ice rinks but makes use of Lake Tilicho, which is frozen for about half a year, for skating and playing hockey. Kathmandu, Pokhara, Ilam and Kavree have four outdoor inline hockey rinks that serve the purpose, additionally.
Things took a higher turn for Nepal Ice Hockey when NIHA became an associate member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 2016. It was a historic moment for Nepal!
Nepal Ice Hockey President Lok Bahadur Shahi handed over a Khukuri knife to IIHF President Rene Fasel as a symbolic present.
During his visit to the IIHF headquarters at Zurich, the NIHA President told IIHF.com, “With the support of the government and the IIHF, we are looking to build a new chapter in Nepalese sports with ice hockey”. Adding further he said that he hoped the first ice rink could be soon built in the capital Kathmandu for which the land had already been acquired. At the time, ice hockey could be played on natural ice only in winter months.
NIHA continues to strive for higher standards of the sport and in its bid to do so, it takes up conducts a number of activities in terms of competitions and matches but more importantly takes up some serious initiatives.
NIHA Initiatives in 2016-17
- In the beginning of the term, NIHA President Shahi put forth what the federation planned to do
- March 10, 2016: NIHA member Keshav Kumar Bist travelled to the headquarters of the IIHF and held serious talks with a team of experts regarding the making of an ice hockey rink in Nepal
- October 22, 2016: Post Bist’s visit, IIHF Treasurer and Ice Hockey France member visited Nepal to study the two suggested sites for the ice hockey rink in Dhulike and Pokhara
- 2017: NIHA focused on preparing the design for the hockey rink, preparing the technical manpower for a training to Finland in July 2017, organizing programs to receive wide financial support from Nepali hockey fans abroad, asking for financial cooperation from various organizations to prepare the hockey rink and making the management effective
Inline Vs Ice Hockey
- Inline hockey is similar to ice hockey in most aspects except that it uses a plastic tile floor, wooden floor or smooth cement instead of ice and is played at room temperature
- Equipment for inline hockey players and goalies include inline skates and ‘no’ shoulder blades whereas ice hockey requires padding for both shoulders and legs
- Inline hockey is played by four players and one goalie whereas ice hockey uses five players
- The puck in inline skating is made of a much lighter plastic and rests on small nylon nubs to curb friction with the inline rink. The puck for ice hockey is made of vulcanized rubber.
- The FIRS inline hockey cage is six inches smaller than ice cages
- The inline rink for FIRS Continental and World Championships measures 60×30 m while the ice rink is rectangular and measures about 180 to 1200 ft in length and 85 to 100 ft in width
While the rest of the game remains almost the same in both types!
Playing Ice Hockey
The game is divided into three 20 min periods, where a face-off between two players initiates the game. Followed by this, the match gets diverted to the teams who have to strive to get the puck to each of their goals.
Each team consists of 6 players including the goalie, two defensemen, center and two forwards.
In this fast sport, the puck can travel up to 100 mph and since this game is body-bruising players use protective gear. Moreover, there are no substitutions!
Countries that Love to Play Ice Hockey
The national winter sport in Canada, ice hockey is the most popular sport in the country and in other countries like Europe, Nordic countries- Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, Russia and the United States. Like Canada, for countries such as Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Switzerland, ice hockey is the most popular winter sport.
NIHA’s Map for the Future
NIHA is working hard to make Nepal a prominent entity in terms of ice hockey and in this regard, it has outlined a few plans for the future:
- Organize inline hockey campaigns as the first step to promote the sport in Nepal
- Mark ideal locations for the sport and build the required infrastructure
- Hold different sports programs and events in schools to develop ice hockey and create a youth team
- Bridge junior youth teams with international championships
- Identify and prepare coaches, technicians and referees
- Build associations with international ice hockey associations for the enhancement of the sport in Nepal
Hope for the Future
With many initiatives in the pipeline, ice hockey in Nepal will soon bear fruition and if things continue in the same pace, the day will not be very far when the country will have its own Ice Hockey Rink!