|National teams|| Men's|
|National federation||Ice Hockey Association of India|
|IIHF since||April 27, 1989|
|Top league||India National Championship|
India is a country in South Asia. New Delhi is the capital, and Mumbai is the largest city. It is the second most populous nation after China.
|India National Championship||2001||-||National championship|
|India Women's Championship||2005||-||National women's championship|
History of hockey in IndiaEdit
Ice hockey has been played in India since the 1930s, when predominantly British as well as some local players played the game at the Shimla Ice Skating Club situated in the Himalaya Mountains in the northwestern part of the country. Shimla ISC has existed as a skating organization since 1920 when an outdoor rink was erected there.
Bombay IHC and Madras IHC were the first two ice hockey teams to be formed in India. A rivalry emerged between Simla ISC and the Ladakh Ice Skating Club (based in Leh near the Tibet border) during the early 1980s. Although it is unconfirmed, it is said that the 1,000 mile distance between them forced the clubs to travel by air to face each other. It is also claimed that when inclement weather (heavy clouds impeding visibility) persisted, the clubs would continue to play games against one another until the weather cleared and permitted a return flight.
The Winter Games Federation of India was founded in 1979, and ice hockey was given a division in the federation. An independent Ice Hockey Association of India was later created. The country became an IIHF member on April 27, 1989. There were three active clubs in India at the time: Simla ISC, Leh ISC, and the Army IHC Leh.
The Ladakh Winter Sports Club was formed in 1995 by a group of local hockey enthusiasts. Most of the players were gathered from the Army teams who plays hockey in the Winter (there is a large contingent of Indian soldiers in Jammu & Kashmir, bordering Pakistan and Tibet). The club lacked sufficient funds for procuring equipment, but the locals improvised and made hockey sticks and pucks carved out of army ammo boot heels and using handmade blades screwed to the soles of heavy army boots. The skates were provided to them by tourists. In 2002, the NHL Players Association donated 50 sets of hockey equipment to the team.
The LWSC has organized the India National Championship since 2001. It is a big deal locally and around 3-4,000 spectators attend the games. The tournament takes place at Leh Karzoo Ice Hockey Rink, an outdoor facility which is situated at an extremely high altitude - 11,500 feet above the sea level. The games are played in two periods of 20 minutes. Playing hockey can be a challenge at such a high altitude, and the captain of Shimla Ice Skating Club once said (after his team was beaten 8-1 by a local B-team), "We can't breathe in this thin air".
Various other competitions have also been staged. The Chief Minister Trophy and National Winter Games were first held in 1998, and the inaugural Inter-Club Tournament was staged the following year. The Sacred Bulls from Delhi, composed mostly of Canadian and American diplomats and businessmen residing in that city - eight individuals aged 35-50 - won the Chief Minister Trophy several times in the early years. The Sacred Bulls also represented India in international tournaments on multiple occasions. The CEC Championship was held for the first time in 2008. There was a tournament staged in Kargil known as the Kargil Open Championship in January 2009. The Drass Championship was played in Bhimbak in January 2010.
The Ice Hockey Association of India lists the following teams as currently active clubs: Indian Army, J&K (Red), Ladakh Scouts Regiment, J&K (Blue), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Kargil Ice and Snow Sports Club, Ex-Servicemen's League.
In September 2005, an Indian junior team participated in the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association International Team. The Indian team was composed of five boys and two girls. Prior to the tournament, seven youth from Ladakh were selected by the federation to participate in the 4th Asian Ice Hockey Development Camp held in Kun Ming, China, from the August 7-13, 2005.
The first indoor ice rink in India opened in Dehradun in 2010. The arena played host to the ice skating and ice hockey events at the 2011 South Asian Winter Games. Ice hockey was a demonstration sport only.
The men's national team made its international debut in 2009, playing in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia held in Abu Dhabi. India has participated in the tournament every year since then, with the exception of 2010. They notched their first international victory at the 2012 tournament, defeating Macau by a score of 5-1.
The women's national team participated in the 1989 Women's Asian Championship, finishing in fourth place. More than 25 years later, they returned to the international scene to compete in the 2016 IIHF Women's Challenge Cup of Asia Division I, losing all four games.