In 2005 the Solar Ice Rink opened in the Panari Sky Centre, a complex that also includes a hotel and a mall about halfway from the city centre to the airport, as East and Central Africa’s first ice rink. Located just 100 metres away from lions, zebras, giraffes and many other animals located just over the nearby fence of the Nairobi National Park.
The rectangular ice sheet measures 32 on 12 metres, just enough for Nairobi’s ice hockey enthusiasts to play 3-on-3. The next full size ice rinks are about 3,000 kilometres away in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, so it doesn’t happen too often that the Kenyans get international competition.
You may remember the Ice Lions from this video we published when CCM equipped them and invited them to Canada where they Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon as surprise teammates:
It was a different environment, and Nairobi is at a higher altitude than Denver and Davos, the cities with pro teams at the highest altitude.
“If there is one thing playing hockey in Kenya has taught me, it's that you can do it. Whatever ‘it’ is. Every dream is valid. If you believe in yourself and start acting, good things will come. You just have to be willing to try,” Frecon told IIHF.com.
“Every dream is valid,” he was told by the Ice Lions captain, which explains their enthusiasm to put themselves on the ice hockey map.
Frecon made a 12-minute documentary with footage from on and off the ice in Nairobi and how enthusiastically local fans celebrate the Ice Lions around the small rink. Have a look!