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Ice hockey in Kenya: blades and body checks in East Africa

2023-02-19T14:48:49.433Z


Blades and body checks in East Africa: Kenya's only ice hockey team trains in a hotel in Nairobi. Big goal: Participation in the Olympic Games – following the example of the legendary bobsleigh team from Jamaica.


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Training on the roof terrace.

Benjamin Mburu works on his technique.

Since there is only one artificial ice rink in Kenya, the 28-year-old ice hockey player has to improvise.

Rollerblades replace ice skates.

Benjamin Mburu, Kenya Ice Lions


»As an ice hockey player, I don't have enough time for training on ice.

And I know that the environment is not as good as abroad.

I get help from our coaches who are all volunteers, ie foreigners living and working in Nairobi.

But we also learn from online sites, there are online training tutorials.

For training we decided to play inline hockey.

It's kind of like ice hockey.

This teaches us how to handle the stick better, how to move the puck and how to position ourselves.«

The lions can only train on ice at the weekend.

A hotel in Nairobi makes its ice rink available for this – sometimes there are even friendlies.

Ice hockey in Kenya – that brings back memories of the similarly exotic bobsledders from Jamaica in the film “Cool Runnings”.

However, architect Benjamin Mburu was not specifically looking for an unusual hobby, his enthusiasm for the sport on ice came more by accident.

Benjamin Mburu, Kenya Ice Lions


»My ice hockey journey started when I was in college.

First I skated.

Then I played inline hockey.

And one day some friends invited me to play ice hockey.

That was the beginning of this beautiful journey.«

The »Ice Lions« are the only team in Kenya.

Helmets, gloves and other protective clothing have to be imported from abroad - and are correspondingly expensive.

There are no professional trainers either.

A Canadian UN employee coaches the amateur team in his spare time.

Anyone interested is welcome.

Tim Colby, Kenya Eislöwen coach


»In training, I notice that the kids learn faster.

They are hungry, want to succeed and try this new sport.

If we have 40, 50 people playing hockey, that's 40, 50 people out of 40 million.

That's really unique.«

Thanks to Colby, there have already been a number of friendlies against teams from abroad.

How

here against the Cheetah ice hockey team from North America.

Michael Baitinger, Cheetah Hockey Team


“They're really fast.

And because of the training here near Nairobi, they are very enduring.

Our match plan was to score a lot of goals and attack a lot in the first half.

Because in the second half we get tired, but they can still walk.

«

The game ended in defeat for the Kenyans.

However, Mburu and the Ice Lions have had some successes in the past.

They hope for better training conditions in the future.

The big goal is to be accepted by the International Ice Hockey Federation at some point – and to be able to take part in the Winter Olympics.

Like the legendary bobsleigh team from Jamaica.

Source: spiegel

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