Okay, seventeenth place in medals and only one gold may not be the best British showing in a Winter Olympics, but did you know that in 1924 Britain won bronze in ice hockey and gold in 1936? Okay, so it’s been a bit of a drought since then but now we have a Kenyan ice hockey team that Brits in Kenya can cheer on.
The coolest sports story in Kenya might no longer belong to a runner from the Rift but some crazy Kenyans on ice. Although the Kenyan press hasn’t picked this up, the BBC, CNN, ESPN, Reuters, and a host of other news outfits have discovered there’s ice hockey on the equator – even the press in Finland have covered Kenya’s best kept sports secret.
Following in the footsteps – or skis – of Eddie the Eagle, the high flying ski jumping Brit, and the Jamaican national bobsleigh team of Cool Runnings fame, who together captured the imagination of the 1988 Winter Games, a group of Kenyans is looking towards the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to make their own mark in history.
Every Wednesday and Saturday at the Panari ice rink you can find a dedicated group Kenyan men and women practicing, playing, and having the time of their lives on ice. The sound of pucks hitting the boards, bodies crashing into one another, and screams of ‘GOAL’ make it sound like you’re in Canada, not a stone’s throw away from a park full of lions, giraffe, and rhinos.
Getting equipment is a huge challenge and playing without helmets and other protective gear is a little dangerous but the Kenyan player’s passion for the game runs deeper than a few cuts and bruises.
A quick Google search for ‘Kenya ice hockey’ will turn up more on the team’s dreams and a YouTube search will find an inspiring Alibaba Olympic Ad: Kenya Ice Hockey Team Dreams Big. Alibaba brought a group of Kenyan players to practice in South Africa and shoot the advert, they also sent five players to Pyeongchang to watch the winter games, an experience none of the players will ever forget.
If you want more information, a free hockey lesson, or are interested in helping the Kenyan team out, email Tim Colby.