The IIHF has announced that the Asian countries of Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have shown the highest growth in hockey participation in the past five years.
Hong Kong, who re-joined the World Championships last year, increased its number of registered ice hockey players from 182 to 1,631, giving them nearly a 800% expansion in players. For UAE, who is coming off a gold medal at the Gulf Cup earlier this year, had a 350% increase, putting them second on the IIHF’s five year growth chart.
With the introduction of the Challenge Cup of Asia back in 2008, it makes sense to see hockey in these countries rise to where they are today. For the Emirates, the team has managed to win six international tournaments since 2008, including two Challenge Cups and every Gulf Cup tournament. While Hong Kong won’t be at the next Challenge Cup, it seems like the 2011 CCoA gold medalists are looking to expand on their World Championship program following a measly 4th place finish in Division III in 2014.
On the other end of the spectrum, Slovenia (-29%), Poland (-12%), Italy (-9%) and Japan (-8%) currently sit at the bottom of the growth chart. For Slovenia and Poland, this news comes during the same year that both countries took major advancements in men’s competition, with the former participating in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
For a full list of new player information published by the IIHF, click here.
Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.