THE first ice hockey training of the Windhoek Lions Ice Sports Club, which was founded in Windhoek on 1 December last year, took place from 15 to 21 December 2003 in the West Grand Casino Ice Hall in Cape Town.
The training coincided with the Southern African Inline Hockey Championships. The organizers, Arndt Asmus and Roland Kunz, were very pleased with the way things went.
Roland Kunz, who actively supports the development of ice hockey in Namibia and who has good contacts on the German ice hockey scene, was able to convince the former national and first league coach Mr. Bernd Haake to coach the team in Cape Town.
Bernd Haake was a German champion with the \"Cologne Sharks\", Italian champion with \"Bozen\" and trainer and supervisor of national teams at the 24-A world championships.
In Cape Town he personally assessed the quality and skills of the Namibian players and was pleasantly surprised. Although for most players it was their first time on skates the quality of the Namibian game was very high.
This became clear on the last day of the tournament when the Namibian players met players from Western Province in test games in the categories U14, U18 and seniors.
The Namibian team, made up of U.10, U12 and U14 players, lost 3 - 10 to the South African team which had the added advantage of being well adjusted to playing together.
The 1 - 4 defeat of the U16 players by the U18 South Africans can only be regarded as an excellent start and the same goes for the seniors\' game. The senior SA team, which has international experience, could only record a 5 - 3 win against the Namibian team made up of U16 and U18 players.
Bernd Haake guaranteed the Namibian team a successful future in ice hockey, the prerequisite for fast growth being the completion of the ice hall project in Windhoek.
This could enable Namibia to reach the international playing level (World Cup C-Group) in two to three years, because the potential (of the younger players especially) is beyond doubt.
Bernd Haake assured Roland Kunz and Arndt Asmus that he would continue to engage in the training of youngsters in Namibian ice hockey. As the ice hall (ice rink) in Windhoek will not be completed in 2004, the next training camp has been planned for Cape Town, probably during August. Haake has promised to take on the role of coach once again.
The players who took part in the ice hockey camp, also participated in the Southern African Inline Hockey Championships. The majority of the players on the U16 and U18 teams came from Team Karas (Casadores Inline Club). Some players of the U10, U12 and U14 teams also came from the Badgers Inline Club.
Roland Kunz and Arndt Asmus regret the fact that many Namibian inline hockey clubs (Kamikaze, Scorpions, Coastal Pirates, Badgers) were not interested in registering their players for the ice hockey camp.
The reasons were offered that the burden on the players would be too heavy as they would have to play ice hockey early in the morning and inline hockey all day long, and also that ice hockey and inline hockey do not compliment each other. It was therefore surprising to note that the participants of the ice hockey camp were also the winners in the inline hockey tournament.
Foreign partner clubs
The Windhoek Lions are already known beyond the African continent. The Windhoek Lions Ice Sports Club already has the German first league club \"Augsburger Panther\" as its partner club. The Augsburger donated a complete set of new jerseys.
According to Roland Kunz there are a further six clubs in the German first and second leagues as well as one club in the Italian first league who are willing to partner with the Windhoek Lions.
The objectives of these partnerships are not financial and material assistance for Namibian ice hockey but rather cooperation in the establishment of programs for the development and promotion of young players (juniors) and the training of qualified coaches.
Thanks to the financial assistance by some Windhoek firms, the club was able to provide every participant with the necessary equipment such as skates, breast padding, jersey, gaiters and trousers.
The initiators of the ice hockey camp, Roland Kunz and Arndt Asmus, the board of directors of the Windhoek Lions Ice-sports Club and all active players herewith extend their thanks to the following sponsors for their generous support: Express Plumbing, Harmonie Seminar Centre, Asco Car Hire, ICS Namibia, Allers Alluminium, Radio 99, Klein Windhoek Schlachterei, Country Roofing, Orion Motors and Out of Africa Town Lodge.
Thank you very much to LTU for covering the freight charges for the sports equipment and to the family Kleingünther from Windhoek who kept the Karas team well fed around the clock during the training camp.