RABAT – For the second year in a row the Moroccans organized an international tournament to let their juniors play against teams from the Mediterranean neighbourhood.
Morocco has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 2010. One year ago a junior team of FC Barcelona, the famous football club from Spain that also operates teams in other sports including ice hockey, travelled to the Moroccan capital of Rabat to offer the juniors of the local Rabat Capitals their first international hockey encounter. Last December, the Moroccans returned the favour and travelled to Spain.
This year the Moroccan Ice Hockey Association (ANMHG) with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sport organized a three-team tournament with players not only from Morocco and Spain but also from France.
The event was held last weekend at the Mega Mall in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, one of two rinks in the country with the other being in Casablanca.
The Rabat Capitals played with an U18 team joined by the U17 of French club Cergy-Pontoise Jokers and an U15 selection from Spain that travelled to Rabat.
As the rink is not full-size (20 by 40 metres), the teams played four-on-four and two periods per game with two games a day in a double round-robin tournament.
The winner was the Spanish team that defeated both the Rabat Capitals (6-4, 10-1) and Cergy-Pontoise (8-1, 9-1). The French finished in second place beating the Moroccan team 5-3 and 6-4.
Despite the defeats, the Moroccans as a country new to hockey were happy about the opportunity to play with cross-Mediterranean rivals. Currently Morocco is the only hockey-playing country in North Africa thanks to the opening of the ice rink in April 2005 although the diaspora of other countries such as Algeria and Tunisia hopes to bring ice hockey to their countries too. In fact, earlier this month Tunisia’s national men’s ice hockey team played its first competitive match in its history, a 6-5 loss to a local French team based in Paris.
“For us we reached the goals with the tournament by creating relationships between juniors from Morocco, Spain and France,” said Adil El Farj, technical director of the ANMHG.
During the tournament three Moroccan U15 teams – Rabat Capitals, Rabat Ifis and Rabat Falcons – played exhibition games.