|National federation||Kuwait Ice Hockey Association|
|IIHF since|| 1985-1992 (expelled)|
May 8, 2009
|Top league||Kuwaiti League|
|Current champion||Kuwait Airways Club|
Kuwait is a country in Western Asia. Kuwait City is the capital and largest city.
|Kuwaiti League||2008||-||National competition|
History of hockey in Kuwait
The Kuwait Ice Hockey Association is the governing body of ice hockey in Kuwait. The country first joined the IIHF in 1985, but was expelled on May 6, 1992, due to lack of ice hockey activity. The country was re-admitted to the IIHF on May 8, 2009.
During the 1980s there were three active clubs known as the Royal Swedish Vikings, Kuwait Falcons and AC CanAm Diplomats. British players were active when the first rink opened in the 1970s, among them Mike O'Brien, Rupe Fresher, Harry Pearson, John Cook, Tony Whithead, Fred Sandford, Tony Goldstone, Dave and Gerry Richards, Jeff Smith and John Rego and they were managed by Clive "Nipper" Millard. They usually played two 15-minute exhibition games each night with the older guys representing Kuwait and the younger ones England. Diplomatically, the boys usually made sure that "Kuwait" won most of the time. Years later the federation hired Swede Michael Lundström for three years (1982-84) as a coach.
A bigger arena was built in the early 1980s and cost $10 million to erect. When the owner came to the arena for the first time after a training session, he was petrified when he saw the black marks from the pucks on his fine white boards. When he learned that the black marks came from pucks he quickly prohibited any ice hockey activities. The Swedish coach had to carefully explain the basics of ice hockey before the owner allowed them to play again.
The best team, the Kuwait Falcons had some very enthusiastic players on their team. The Falcons organization also had three junior teams. Their best player was the captain of the team, Hammed Al Moulah, who later went on to study in the USA. Some of the other players were actually pretty decent skaters and good with the puck. Another team was the Royal Swedish Vikings who had Swedish and other foreign guest workers playing there. The teams usually played against American and Canadian guest workers.
One of the games from the early 1980s was particularly notable. It involved a team of American guest workers who played against one of the local teams. Tempers flared-up and a fight between an American player and the Kuwaiti captain resulted in both teams getting involved in a huge brawl, and soon the entire crowd in the stands jumped the boards and got involved in the fight and grabbed every possible thing that they could find, sticks, chairs, shoes, anything! It was an ugly scene but fortunately this mayhem only resulted in some black eyes and sore hands.
All ice hockey was banned for a month after that. People talked about that game for years. Money never was a problem in Kuwaiti hockey, on the contrary, the biggest problem was the inability to co-ordinate regular practices. Some of the players couldn't attend them regularly because of religious commitments. By the early 1990s interest in the sport had declined, which led to the IIHF's expulsion of Kuwait as a member country.
Hockey activities later picked up again and the Kuwaiti National Team made its international debut at the 1999 Asian Winter Games. They were walloped 44-1 by Japan and 35-0 by China. These results, against much more experienced opposition, were not overly surprising. In the 5th place game, Kuwait fell to Mongolia 5-4 in overtime. Kuwait returned eight years later to play in the 2007 Asian Winter Games, where they notched their first-ever international victory, a 15-2 triumph over Macau. The following year they competed in the Arab Cup of Ice Hockey finishing second after losing to the United Arab Emirates in the final.
Domestically, the Kuwaiti League, featuring four teams, was contested for the first time in 2008-09. Kuwait Airways Club won the title in 2016. The national team has competed in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia annually since 2010. Kuwait City hosted the tournament in 2011. Kuwait has also appeared at all four Gulf Ice Hockey Championships staged since 2010, winning three silver medals and hosting the 2010 and 2014 tournaments. At the 2011 Asian Winter Games, they finished sixth in the Premier Division, recording a 5-2 win over Bahrain.
Special thanks to Patrick H. for supplying information on this country.