When I started the whole Algerian hockey project the dream was of course to create a national team and play for this national team and put this national team into competitions such as the World Championships and more unrealistically the Winter Olympics. That was the idea, the dream, but whilst making this dream a reality it became clear that this was short sighted and temporary. What’s really needed is the introduction of the sport to Algeria and to have Algerians in Algeria playing, particularly kids. So this became my new goal, but it’s difficult with the limited amount of facilities currently in Algeria, and the fact the only hockey equipment in Algeria is the equipment I bring in.
In my recent post where I met the American Ambassador, I told how she had put me in touch with some of her contacts. One of those contacts was the owner and General Manager of Park Mall in Setif. This mall is home to the only real ice rink in the whole country, the other rinks use plastic synthetic ice boards. I had a very positive meeting with the General Manager, Mr Khenfri, who is young and modern and interested in having hockey in Algeria. He gave me the good news that he was planning on building more ice facilities and that he’d like to work with us to put hockey in the Setif rink and future rinks.
Following my meeting I had the chance fulfil another dream, to lace up my skates and play hockey on Algerian soil. The two stewards at the rink were pretty good skaters, I gave them a stick and we played for a bit. They picked it up pretty quickly and they were eager to learn. They will probably be the first two Algeria born and trained players and coaches.
The rink itself is small but the ice is fairly good standard, definitely fine for kids to learn the game, it’s not too dissimilar to the cross ice format being adopted in Canada for kids hockey.
In 2018 we will have kids hockey sessions IN Algeria!