Mountain hockey born out of boredom

Credits: Susan Bradnam, London Free Press/QMI AGENCY


TORONTO -- Canada's game appeared in the mountainous Ladakh region in the 1970's, inspired by bored Indian Army officers stationed in the region.

They were simply looking for a way to keep fit.

The frozen streams and high-altitude lakes formed an ideal place to skate and the sport soon spread to the inquisitive local population.

Players initially used field hockey sticks with skates made from army boots with homemade blades.

For 30 years, the Ladakhi's scrimmaged amongst themselves with few skills, rules, coaches or equipment.
Since 2001, with the support of many foreign organizations (NHL Players Association, Los Angeles Kings and the Montreal Canadiens among others), and in partnership with the Ladakh Winter Sports Club, hockey is booming in the region.

The most heartening aspect for organizers is the number of local children from three years of age onwards taking to the ice.

The tournament organizer is a Canadian, Tony Kretzschmar, who says he is proud to be associated with an event that started as a small scrimmage on a village pond and now attracts players from around the world.

"We have three teams coming in 2013, including the Delhi Bulls team," Kretzschmar said. "We also have a team from London in the U.K. and a team from Germany/Finland as well as the locals.

"I first got involved in 2002 when I moved to India with my job and I've been organizing the tournament

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