Consider it something like a real life Cool Runnings.
There are many similarities between the Ice Lions, Kenya’s only ice hockey team, and the fictional Jamaican bobsled team. They participate in what is generously considered an outlier sport in their home country; venues and equipment are scarce, if they exist at all; and, when given the stage, they lit it up.
But the Ice Lions have an even bigger problem: In Kenya, they don’t have anyone to play against. There simply aren’t any opponents, so inter-team shinny was about as close to competition as it was going to get.
Until they were invited to Canada to play against a makeshift team of– oh, wow, NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon. Outfitted with new skates, sticks, personalized jerseys, and all other necessary accoutrement, the Ice Lions hit the ice for what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (made possible by a Tim Hortons sponsorship.
There were hugs, tears, and some decent hockey on display:
“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada, but to play—for the first time—in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game,” said Benard Azegere, captain of the Kenya Ice Lions.
And it wasn’t just a special occasion for the visitors. “I was honoured to be able to join the Ice Lions as they played their first game against another team,” said Sidney Crosby, captain of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. “One of the things I love about hockey is how it’s able to reach so many people from so many countries around the world and bring them together.”
To ensure the longevity of such an opportunity, Tim Hortons made a donation to Kenya’s Youth Hockey League with the aim for expanding the scope of hockey in Africa.