Hockey is always referred to as a global game, and given the World’s shrinking boarders of today, that couldn’t be a truer statement. While North America and Northern Europe usually come to mind when thinking about hockey hotbeds, the game has expanded to some unsuspecting places. From Africa to the Himalayas, we’ll be taking a look at new markets that are popping up around the globe.
One of the great benefits of sport is that it keeps young people occupied and out of trouble. In Ladakh, an area in India tucked away in the Himalayas, hockey has become a vehicle of peace and a welcomed reprieve from the tension that exists in the region. Given its unique geographic location, it’s the only place to play ice hockey in India. The game is used to teach life lessons and unite students of the region.
While the temperatures may support hockey in the Himalayas, that’s certainly not the case in Kenya where the citizens are dependent upon a sole ice rink. In spite of that, Kenyans haven’t allowed a lack of resources stifle their passion for the game. Their spirit is summed up best near the end of the video, when one interviewee explains, “It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what facilities or equipment you have, what your race is or how old you are, or even your skill level, hockey is hockey.”
The United Arab Emirates
Another nation developing a program with a climate not conducive to ice hockey is the United Arab Emirates. However, where the UAE differs from Kenya, is in its resources. Fortunately for aspiring hockey players of the region, the nation has a lot of capital to invest. The UAE national team has actually been quite successful winning the Asia Challenge Cup – which was established in 2008 – and twice being the runner up.
Australia is a nation that has made significant advances developing the game since the start of the new millennium. They even have a rising domestic league, the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL), which includes eight teams. Most notably, they have one of their own on the cusp of making the NHL. Nathan Walker was picked in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, making him the first Australian ever selected. The game of hockey has grown so much so ‘Down Under’ that this past summer a group of American and Canadian players were invited to Australia to play in an international series against one another, showcasing the game to locals. Check out the promo video below.
These are just a few examples of how hockey is growing far and wide. With new initiatives always popping up and a global support system, the possibilities of how big the game can grow are limitless.
As an American based in Amsterdam, Joe provides a unique hockey insight, bringing a global perspective to the game. Joe has several years of experience covering the game on both a domestic and international level, including being credentialed for multiple World and World Junior Championships.