Egypt within the IIHF? It’s time for a pyramid scheme

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By Hussein Kamel
Sameh Ramadan is a busy man. By day he lives in New Jersey, the place he works in gross sales and advertising. By evening the American-born Egyptian twin citizen is a senior advisor for Egypt’s membership workforce and the purpose particular person within the nation’s quest to affix the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation.
Ramadan, who joined Egypt Ice Hockey in 2016, is working tirelessly to ascertain a winter sports activities federation in Egypt in hopes of someday having the nation take part in worldwide competitions. Ever the salesperson, Ramadan has put his advertising chops to good use, rebranding Egypt Ice Hockey by revamping the workforce emblem with a beforehand designed pharaoh sporting a goalie masks within the fashion of Jason Voorhees from Friday The 13th.
Ramadan – together with fellow committee members Yasser Ahmed, Ayman Abdallah, Ahmed Ramadan and Mahmoud Ghonaim – can be working to stage a recreation in entrance of the Pyramids of Giza to lift consciousness about hockey in Egypt.
“Simply think about that imaginative and prescient in entrance of the pyramids, how loopy would that be?” he mentioned. “If we’re capable of pull off a recreation on the pyramids, it could be an iconic scene – ice hockey within the desert in entrance of one of many historic wonders of the world.”
The concept isn’t as pie within the sky as you may suppose. The plateau in entrance of the pyramids, which is used for concert events, graduations and different affairs, has hosted sporting occasions previously, together with the annual Egyptian Squash Open. Ramadan is working with charitable organizations Hockey4All and The Hockey Basis on the logistics of staging the occasion. The hope is to construct an actual ice rink (somewhat than an artificial one) in entrance of the pyramids and host a sports activities competition.
Egyptian Squash Open | Courtesy of Egypt Ice HockeyAs head of Egypt Ice Hockey, in addition to a left winger for the nation’s workforce, Ramadan is all the time looking out for brand new expertise throughout the globe. Every time he crosses paths with anybody within the hockey group, he all the time makes a degree of asking, “Have you learnt any good hockey gamers with Egyptian citizenship?”
And he’s not simply in search of males. As a father of three younger women, all of whom play hockey in New Jersey, he’s hoping to ascertain a girls’s workforce in Egypt as effectively. To that finish, he’s recognized eight to 10 dual-citizen women underneath the age of 12 who’re taking part in on the highest stage of hockey of their respective international locations.
In February, Egypt competed on the six-team Arab Skilled Membership Championship, with Lebanon, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and host Kuwait. (Tunisia and Algeria had been additionally invited, however neither might make it.) The match, which was the second version, marked the opening of a brand new ice rink in Kuwait.
The membership has come a great distance since Ramadan’s first competitors, the 2016 Africa Ice Hockey Golf equipment Cup in Morocco. Egypt confirmed up with 9 gamers, two of whom had been underneath 14, and just one goalie. The end result was as anticipated, because the membership workforce completed plum final.
“We now have an inventory of gamers,” Ramadan mentioned. “We’re rejecting a ton of individuals and asking for movies.”
Sameh Ramadan | Courtesy of Egypt Ice HockeyThe gamers come primarily from New Jersey, Montreal and Cairo, and all of them pay their very own manner. To recruit new gamers, Egypt Ice Hockey depends closely on phrase of mouth and social media. Members of the workforce play a pivotal function within the recruiting course of by reaching out to golf equipment and coaches and asking whether or not any of their gamers are twin residents. Based on Ramadan, for the reason that workforce started taking part in tournaments, and particularly after their overhauled emblem went viral on Reddit, they’ve been getting extra emails from gamers and coaches who’re concerned about becoming a member of the membership.
On the Arab Golf equipment Event in 2018 within the UAE, Egypt managed to return away with its first competitors win, beating Algeria’s membership workforce 8-7 to complete fourth out of 5 groups. This February in Kuwait, Egypt will once more take part as a membership workforce, not a nationwide workforce. For the reason that IIHF doesn’t sanction membership competitions, the groups are allowed to carry non-nationals. But Egypt Ice Hockey has determined to restrict the variety of international gamers regardless, to be able to give extra probabilities to gamers with Egyptian nationalities. “We’re not a lot bothered about our document as a lot because the year-to-year enchancment and our development,” Ramadan mentioned.
Egyptian workforce on the 2018 Arab Golf equipment Event | Courtesy of Egypt Ice HockeyIf Egypt’s program continues to develop, the hope is the nation will finally be part of the ranks of the IIHF. If that’s the case, Egypt would change into solely the fourth African nation to take action, becoming a member of Algeria, Morocco and South Africa. Final 12 months, the IIHF welcomed Algeria, Colombia, Iran, Lebanon and Uzbekistan.For many upstart non-hockey nations, the largest hurdle is an absence of apparatus. However because of donations from The Hockey Basis and Hockey4All, Ramadan has all of the gear he wants.
To maneuver ahead, Egypt Ice Hockey is solely looking for a chunk of paper from both the Egyptian Sports activities Minister or the Egyptian Olympic Committee.
“All I would like is a letter, which is free,” Ramadan mentioned. “The letter would say that Egypt Ice Hockey can proceed to get an ice hockey schooling and convey that data to Egypt – principally that the membership can develop the hockey curiosity in Egypt. And with that we are able to apply to be an affiliate member to the IIHF.”
If Ramadan will get his want, a brand new hockey nation will formally be born.
That is an edited model of a narrative that appeared in The Hockey Information 2020 Rookie Difficulty. Need extra in-depth options, evaluation and opinions delivered proper to your mailbox? Subscribe to The Hockey Information journal.
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