Kenya: Friendship Ice Hockey Expected to Enhance Sports Tourism in Kenya

Nairobi — The upcoming Friendship Ice Hockey League on January 3-7 has the potential to enhance Kenya’s reputation as a sports tourism destination, Kenya Ice Lions first vice president Ali Kilanga has said.

Kilanga said the visit to the country by two international teams from the United States and Canada will provide an opportunity to put Kenyan ice hockey on an international pedestal and earn exposure for the country’s players.

“The two teams consist of former players of ice hockey in these two countries who are passionate about the sport and want to help grow sports tourisms in places that have just recently embraced ice hockey as well as lacrosse. The league will first of all, provide Kenya with the exposure and offer a chance for ice hockey to develop in the country. They first came in 2019 but were couldn’t do so in 2020 due to Covid-19 so it is great to have them once again,” Kilanga said.

Kilanga said it is all-systems-go ahead of the week-long tournament that will be held at the Panari Sky Centre in Westlands.

He added that the league heralds a new dawn for ice hockey in the country, coupled with the Ministry of Sports’ renewed commitment to diversify Kenya’s array of specialty in different sports disciplines.

“Ever since we met the Sports CS (Ababu Namwamba) at Kasarani Stadium, along with other federations, the government has been very supportive. We have held regular meetings with various stakeholders including National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) as well as the Sports Registrar. She (Sports Registrar) gave us a letter allowing us affiliation to the International Hockey Federation and we will be communicating the same to the international federation,” he said.

The national ice hockey federation further expects a busy year for the sport as they seek to build on the gains made in 2022.

Among their crowded in-tray include the annual Madaraka Day and Jamhuri Day Cup as well as visit a group of young ice hockey players as part of an exchange programme.

As curtains prepare to come down on 2022, Kilanga reflected on what has been a recovery period for the sport after a turbulent two years occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We cannot complain… it was a nice but slow year. We resumed after the disruption caused by Covid and gathering the team back together was sort of a challenge. Some of the guys had found jobs outside of Nairobi,” he said.

He is hopeful that the government’s bottom-up model of nurturing and developing sports talent will bear fruit in ice hockey.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *