.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Unlikely ice hockey champions - from Israel

I had missed this story last month:

An Israeli hockey team of children ages 11 to 13 took first place in an international tournament recently, beating 91 other teams – all without ever stepping on the ice prior to competition.

The kids, mostly from Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion, dreamed of practicing their hockey moves at a real hockey rink with real ice. Unfortunately the only hockey rink in the entire State of Israel is located up north in Metula, so the inventive team decided to play street hockey instead using rollerblades.

The team, consisting of 17 Israelis, recently competed in a Canadian tournament. They call themselves "The Bat Yam Club" despite the fact that the group members also come from Rishon Lezion as well as two other children from Ma'alot who regularly play ice hockey on real ice.

Many of the teams which took part in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament 2011 came from countries where ice hockey is very popular and played by tens of thousands of kids, including: Canada, the United States, Finland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and more.

Israel was considered to be an underdog in the competition due to the fact that Israeli kids, unlike most of the children participating, only practice their hockey moves on dry ground using rollerblades instead of hockey skates. The Israeli team gets to play at the ice rink in Metula only a few times a year.

"We had five tournament matches, including the final match, and we won them all. The tournament organizers couldn't believe these kids, who barely even know what real ice hockey looks like," said Aaron Aharonovich, chairman of the Rishon Lezion hockey club.