Kenya is a powerhouse in athletes, lately sevens rugby has been following suit and we can also kick a ball, going by the Harambee Stars’ recent exploits in the Afcon qualifiers.
But ice hockey? Well, that is a “strange” sport for a country which enjoys sun shine almost throughout the year.
But again, Kenyans are special people, our penchant for trying out new things and embracing new activities and cultures is well known.
Kenya Ice Lions, the sole ice hockey team in the country is therefore a true definition of the adventurous spirit of Kenyan.
The team that trains twice a week at the Panari Sky Center Hotel, Nairobi recently landed a trip of their lives to Canada, the home of ice hockey, courtesy of Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons.
Before the trip, the team had never faced an opponent since the players are not enough to form a second team, much less a league.
Upon arriving in Canada, the players discovered several surprises waiting for them, including top-of-the-line gear, custom jerseys and a team to finally play against.
But they also had a few unexpected visitors lace up and join their starting line:
Among them; Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who has been considered one of the best players in the world for more than a decade.
The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, while younger and less of a household name than Crosby, is one of the league’s rising stars and brings a lot of spirit to the game.
“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada, but to play—for the first time—in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game,” said Benard Azegere, captain of the Kenya Ice Lions.
“When we first started playing in Kenya, we didn’t even have full equipment, but now not only do we have that, we can say we’ve played a real game with some All-Star teammates,” he added.
To continue building the legacy that the Ice Lions have started, Tim Hortons also made a donation to Kenya’s Youth Hockey League in hopes of helping ensure Kenya’s first ice hockey team isn’t its last.
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