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Kenyans tackle ice hockey regardless of restricted ice in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Benjamin Mburu and Mike Carlos Otione are preparing for sports activities apply.

However what might they be taking part in, all the way in which up right here on a rooftop in Nairobi? The reply is ice hockey.

It is a sport that’s principally related to colder areas, the place temperatures fall under freezing.

However right here in sub-Saharan Africa, situations are very completely different.

Kenya solely has one ice rink, at Panari Sky Heart, a excessive finish resort.

So as an alternative of a pointy pair of ice skates and a frozen lakebed, these athletes use curler blades and the graceful flat expanse of the constructing rooftop.

“I like ice hockey however earlier than I began I used to be doing curler hockey. However I went to Panari (referring to Panari Sky Centre), I noticed the sport was fascinating. I wished to play the sport however the issue is that there isn’t any winter right here and we have now just one ice rink. However abroad, discovering ice is straightforward. You will discover frozen locations the place folks prepare. If it have been like that right here it could have been the most effective. However I’ve a dream that earlier than I die I need to play within the NHL (Nationwide Hockey League) and turn out to be like Sidney Crosby (a Canadian skilled ice hockey participant),” says Otieno.

Each males play for the Kenya Ice Lions, the nationwide crew.

Benjamin Mburu is captain.

His love for ice hockey started as a baby.

“Ever since I used to be a child I used to be bewildered and amazed once I noticed in films guys taking part in a sport very quick and bumping into one another. And once I grew up and I realised there’s ice hockey in Kenya, I made a decision to take it up and play it,” he says.

“A number of the challenges we face is that ice time could be very costly and we wouldn’t have every other rink other than Panari which is only one rink in the entire of the nation. Which means we have now very restricted ice time to apply on ice. So generally we resolve to off-ice coaching. For instance I take advantage of my residence rooftop with a couple of of my associates and we be taught by means of channels like there’s YouTube there are tutorials on-line.”

The Kenya Ice Lions meet up as soon as per week to practise on the ice at that one valuable rink in Panari Sky Heart.

That is their one likelihood to place to the check all the talents they have been perfecting outdoors, on rooftops and different off-ice areas.

The crew was shaped in 2015 and has been rising slowly.

There at the moment are 30 males on the squad.

The gamers have hopes of representing Kenya.

The plan is the attempt to be a part of the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation, which they assume will deliver extra consideration and assist to their crew.

Supporting them to realize this aim is Tom Colby, a volunteer coach and Canadian expat.

“We might be approaching the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation for full membership quickly, and we actually really feel we deserve that form of membership and that stage of assist. And we all know they’re dedicated to us, they’ve reached out to us a couple of instances. And with that Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation assist, it opens up doorways globally,” he says.

“It’s a nice alternative for the gamers, and so they actually deserve it as a result of these guys commit, day in time out. On ice coaching, they’re coaching the children now, they’re doing the off-ice work, all of the group, the budgets, the work plans, the tools upkeep, all of that, it is numerous work ice hockey. And they’re a really devoted group, the Kenya Ice Lions, in order that they actually deserve this. They’ve proven what it takes to develop an ice hockey crew and so they have carried out it proper right here on the equator. So, Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation, right here we come.”