By George Williams – SportsFinding
The Royal Spanish Federation of Ice Sports (RFEDH) has held this Friday the act of commemoration of the centenary of Spanish Ice Hockey (1923-2023) in the Samaranch Room of the Higher Sports Council (CSD).
The event was attended by the president of the RFEDH, Frank González; Alberto Serrano, vice president of the RFEDH and member of the Spanish team for the 1977 World Championships; Carlos Kubala, member of the Spanish team for the 1977 World Championships; Elena Álvarez, captain of the Spanish team and ice hockey member of the RFEDH; and Ander Alcaine, former ice hockey player, national team goalkeeper and professional in the Magnus League.
This centenary coincides with the date on which, in 1923, the tenth IIHF Annual Congress was held in Antwerp (Belgium), where Spain was accepted as a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Spain was represented at the congress by the diplomat, artist, film director and hockey player Edgar Neville, a figure who was present at the event through his grandson Edgar Neville.
Neville has shared a video in which he remembered his grandfather’s passion for ice. A message was also projected from Manel Puigbó, an illustrious player from the fifties and sixties, now 91 years old and one of the pioneers of hockey, in which he recalled the championships that were played in the Nuria Valley in the mid-fifties between Spanish teams and some international guests.
Carlos Kubala has stressed that he has “great friends” from that 1977 team. “We have been together for more than 50 years and we still meet from time to time to play for veterans,” he said. “We were happy with what little we had, they were tough starts but I am proud of what we achieved and I love seeing young people who continue to raise the level of ice hockey,” added Alberto Serrano.
Frank González, also a member of the first national team at the 1977 World Championships; in Copenhagen (Denmark), recalled that they had to bring exchange items with the Danes. “About 33 bottles of Licor 43 and cognac to get some material and equipment for our team instead,” he recalled.
For her part, Elena Álvarez has claimed that the level of women’s ice hockey “has improved a lot” from its creation to the present. “It seems like another sport. The Iberdrola League is made up of real athletes and more and more players are developing from the base,” she said.
Finally, Ander Alcaine has added that when it started they were high school kids traveling every two months. “We looked like professionals when we were barely 15 years old and from the EYOF in 2007 they began to work a lot with my generation and I was able to play professionally in France at the age of 19,” he said.
The event was also attended by the Madrid City Council Sports Director General, Alicia Martín, who congratulated the RFEDH on the centenary of ice hockey. “It is an honor for Madrid that these events culminate with the World Cup in Madrid. When the proposal came to us, it was a resounding yes because we want the city to be filled with ice hockey and this competition helps strengthen the grassroots sport.” Finally, the press conference closed with the intervention of Juan María Fernández Carnicer, Director of the CSD’s Cabinet, who thanked “all those present for their commitment, since without you none of this would have existed; and also their passion for move on,” he said.
The centenary celebration will continue in April during the Ice Hockey World Championship (Division II Group A), which will be held in Madrid from April 16 to 22 and with Spain aspiring to promotion.
The RFEDH has also exhibited a selection of historical shirts from different eras, together with an exhibition of centenary images based on a ‘falcon board’ model as a support, in line with the federation’s commitment to sustainability.