In an unusual scene in Egypt with its hot weather even in winter, an ice hockey match was played in a hall located in the entrance hall of a shopping center in the capital Cairo, with Egyptian players and strangers holding sticks and wearing helmets, skates and shoulders, elbow pads, knees and shins.
The match was part of a three-day ice hockey event, Egypt Ice Hockey Experience 2021 (EIHE 2021), which kicked off Sunday evening and was hosted by Egyptian and foreign ice hockey fans to promote the sport in Egypt, which does not have a winter sports federation or a national ice hockey team.
The EIHE 2021 Friendly Tournament is mainly co-hosted by Egypt Ice Hockey, a team of mostly young Egyptians raised and living in Canada and the United States, as well as IBIS, an Egyptian business services company, and the Friendship League, a sports tourism organization based in Canada.
“This event is a spotlight, or a kind of promotion, for the Egyptian people to introduce them to ice hockey, which is so much like the football Egyptians love so much,” said Nancy Abdel-Hadi, co-organizer and director of IBIS. , noting that the slogan of the event is: “To promote winter sports in the country where the sun always shines.
The international friendly tournament includes three Egyptian teams of local and dual nationality and three foreign teams with players from different countries, including Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan, brought by the Friendship League.
Scott Howe, representative of the Friendship League and co-organizer of the event, said the event aims to raise awareness among Egyptians about ice hockey and encourage investment in the field, pending Egypt enters the world of winter sports in the near future. .
“In places like Europe and North America, hockey is a fairly common sport. But we are looking for countries that are trying to launch new (hockey) programs and are trying to develop. So we’re kind of trying to come and help them, ”Howe said. “From our point of view, it’s just an honor to be able to support this mission,” he added.
Suleiman Mostafa, one of the Egyptian hockey players born in Canada and currently living in the United States, was warming up before one of the friendlies when he expressed his honor to return to Egypt for the second time in his life . and participate in this event.
“This tournament is designed to help people come together and show the Egyptian community that we can play hockey in Egypt, and I hope that one day we can play on our Olympic stage in winter sports in general, ”the young man said.
“I learned to skate before I even walked,” he added, expressing his love for ice hockey and his hope for its popularity in Egypt.
The ice hockey matches drew many spectators to the Cairo Mall, including Egyptians and foreigners.
Marc Poitevin, a Canadian businessman working and living in Egypt, said he had come to support ice sports in general, including curling, figure skating, hockey “and whatever else you can do on the ice. ice “.
“I would love to see Egypt one day have a team, whether it’s hockey, curling, figure skating or even skiing, for the Winter Olympics. So I think that by making the sport known, it’s a good thing that could benefit society as a whole, ”said the Canadian.
The event took place under the patronage of the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports and brought together representatives of the Ministry, the Egyptian Olympic Committee and the Egyptian Tourism Authority, as well as the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt.
Sherif El-Erian, secretary general of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, said Egyptian sports officials are working to create a winter sports federation and national teams for the Winter Olympics.
“It will take time and effort, but someone has to start. If no one starts, we’ll never get there. Every sport started from scratch. Now we have created a nucleus to have national teams representing Egypt at the winter games, ”added El-Erian.
“This is the start and I hope it will be a good starting point,” said the Egyptian official.