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Kenya’s only hockey team pushing to join IIHF

Being a hockey superstar is a pretty common dream for those growing up in Canada. But it’s also a goal for members of the Ice Lions team in Kenya.

The sights are familiar. players run to practice, hours and hours, all with the same goal in mind: to make it to the NHL.

That goal may seem a bit far-fetched, especially given the team’s regular training ground. The Ice Lions, Kenya’s only ice hockey team, spend most of their time around the roof above team captain Benjamin Mburu’s apartment instead of the rink.

“Ice time is very expensive and we have no rink other than Panari, which is just one rink in the whole country,” Mburu said.

Once a week, the Ice Lions can trade roller skates for ice skates to practice on the rink at the luxury Panari Hotel.

The team was founded in 2015 when players from this sub-Saharan country came together to celebrate their love of hockey.

“Ever since I was a child, I was confused and amazed when I saw in the movies how boys were playing sports, going very fast and crashing into each other,” says Mburu.

The team has worked for years to represent Kenya on the world stage, hoping to join the International Ice Hockey Federation.

In 2018, the Ice Lions dream got a bit of a boost after a Tim Hortons ad gave some players the chance to travel to Toronto and meet their idol Sidney Crosby.

But years later, they’re still looking to gain more international recognition.

Now they’re getting help from Tim Colby, a former minor hockey coach in Ottawa.

“They’re a very dedicated group, the Kenya Ice Lions, so they really deserve it,” Colby said. “They’ve shown what it takes to grow an ice hockey team, and they’ve done it right here on the equator, so the International Ice Hockey Federation, here we come.”

With files from’s Alexandra Mae Jones

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