Did you know that the history of ice hockey in India dates back almost 100 years, when ice hockey was a favourite pastime?
Nottingham IHC’s U15’s Netminder Charlie Henry knows all about the history from the many stories his Grandfather has told him about his life and times in India where he was born.
Charlie says “One story in particular that sticks out, is how there came to be an outdoor ice rink in India. You can imagine my reaction when he told me this because, I mean, India – it’s scorching hot there isn’t it?”
Charlie’s Grandfather was born in Shimla, which is the capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the freezing Himalayan foothills. The Shimla Ice Skating Rink was built in 1920 by an Englishman called Lord Blessington who owned a huge mansion overlooking the hill station.
“My Grandpa told me that Lord Blessington owned tennis courts and one day when he found the outside water taps and even the drips from them had froze, he decided to experiment by flooding the courts to see what happened. Amazingly the water froze solid and strong enough to walk on. The low temperatures of Shimla plus the shading from the trees on the hillsides, made it perfect for an outdoor ice skating rink so the courts were then converted during the winter months”.
Charlie’s Grandfather used to meet up with friends socially to skate but they all found they grew to love ice hockey and wanted to try it out.
Charlie said “I couldn’t believe it when he told me he played in goal – the same position as me. In the 50’s he said it was all about fashion and looking good, mainly because you weren’t able to buy ice hockey gear and only normal skates. There was no off ice fitness either, in fact many people would smoke whilst skating on the ice. There were no jerseys, in fact he said people used to wear their best trousers, shirts & ties and your number was on a bib that was tied to you. They used to nail skate blades onto army boots. Pucks were made from cutting the rubber heels off boots which were then shaped and goal keepers wore cricket pads and that was about it – no helmets, knee or elbow pads and certainly no jocks”!
Although ice hockey has changed drastically since the 50’s, Charlie is encouraged by his Grandfather’s words and continues to do the very best he can for his team and club at all times. This, together with excellent club coaching, two off ice training sessions a week and off season goaltending camps, has seen Charlie push himself to want to be the greatest in his field. He has been at the NIHC since the age of 10 playing for the U11’s, U13’s and now netminder for the U15’s Ice Cats. Charlie still continues to learn. His hard work and determination has paid off as last season he was selected for the Midland’s Conference U13’s Team, and more recently has been selected to take part in the England National Team Programme.
“My Grandpa’s influence is important to me and I love the fact I’m following in his footsteps – but with far more protection that is!”
Nottingham Ice Hockey Club supports young people to get involved with the world’s fastest team sport – if you are interested to know more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org