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Canada eager to develop ice hockey in tropical Ho Chi Minh City

Friday, December 15, 2017, 19:19 GMT+7
Canada eager to develop ice hockey in tropical Ho Chi Minh City
Ice hockey teams play a friendly match organized by the Consulate General of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on December 14, 2017 - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News

The Consulate General of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam (CanCham) held an event on Thursday in Ho Chi Minh City to treat visitors to ice skating, hockey lessons, and a hockey match.

The free-of-charge event was held in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation (1867 – 2017).

“Hockey is Canada’s winter sport. There are about 2,000 Canadians living in Ho Chi Minh City.  Having a skating rink in Vietnam is like having a little piece of home,” Canadian Consul General Kyle Nunas shared with Tuoi Tre News. “We thought: ‘what better way to celebrate?’”.

“I think hockey is still very new in Vietnam. I wanted to be here personally to celebrate and increase awareness because it’s a volunteer sport and will take off, succeed when people come to play,” he added.

The consul general explained that he was born in Canada and his son plays hockey “so it’s part of the family”.

Nunas said he is a hockey fan, but is still learning to play and hopes to start practicing on a weekly basis.

Canadian Consul General Kyle Nunas (R) gives opening remarks at the ice skating and hockey event hosted by the Consulate General of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on December 14, 2017 - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Canadian Consul General Kyle Nunas (R) gives opening remarks at the ice skating and hockey event hosted by the Consulate General of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on December 14, 2017 - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News

“We started hockey here 11 months ago,” said Ralf Matthaes, the organizer of CanCham’s hockey development program in Ho Chi Minh City.

“So far we mostly have foreigners but we want more Vietnamese to join. Twenty years ago, there was only one hockey player in China.  There are now 30,000. We want Vietnam in the Winter Olympics for ice hockey,” he shared.

To do so, according to Matthaes, the key is getting people into the rink and learning how to skate.

“Once you know how to skate, there are a lot of activities you can do,” he added.

By the end of the event, the effort to spread the sport seemed to have paid off.

Many of the event-goers were elated to be experiencing ice skating and hockey in the middle of tropical Saigon.

Pham Hien Vinh, 17, said he’s tried roller skating before, but this was his first time in skates.

“I’ve seen people ice skating and playing hockey on TV but it's real fun to try it for myself.  It requires speed and fitness.  It’s really interesting,” he shared.

Meanwhile, his friend Dinh Thi Thuy Linh, 20, was having trouble in the slippery rink. 

Despite her difficulties, the sport enthusiast said she will not give up until she can skate on ice.

The same resilience was shown by Nguyen Gia Huy, who felt a sense of pride every time he stood up after a fall.

Visitors to the event were also treated to a match between the Heart of Darkness Dark Army and the West Coast Dental Crowns, two Saigon-based ice hockey teams with mainly foreigner members.

An avid hockey fan, Le Thi Huong, shared that watching a game in real life was a completely different experience than watching on computer.

“It's way more thrilling,” she said. 

Canadian Consul General Kyle Nunas and his son in a hockey uniform at the event - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Canadian Consul General Kyle Nunas and his son in a hockey uniform at the event - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young hockey player on the move - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young hockey player on the move - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young Vietnamese enjoyed ice skating at the event held by the Consulate General of Canada and CanCham in Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young Vietnamese enjoyed ice skating at the event held by the Consulate General of Canada and CanCham in Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young Vietnamese enjoyed ice skating at the event held by the Consulate General of Canada and CanCham in Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Young Vietnamese enjoyed ice skating at the event held by the Consulate General of Canada and CanCham in Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
A young ice skater try to balance on ice - Photo: Tran Phuong/ Tuoi Tre News
A young ice skater try to balance on ice - Photo: Tran Phuong/ Tuoi Tre News
An figure skater performs a routine at the event - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
An figure skater performs a routine at the event - Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News

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DONG NGUYEN - TRAN PHUONG/ TUOI TRE NEWS

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