• Ice Stock Takes Root in Kenya

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Feb 27, 2011-Not many Kenyans may have heard or are even familiar with the sport of Ice stock that is very similar to Curling.
It is a winter sport played on ice with the competitors competing either as individuals or as a team.
The players’ slide a stock, which has a handle attached to it over a distance of about 28 meters. The aim is to either displace their opponents stock or place the stock closest to the puck (the strike rubber).

Four alternating throws by both teams and change of throwing direction completes a game with only one team scoring to determine the winner.
That makes it difficult to practice the sport locally but not for the Kenyan Ice stock Sport members.
The local curlers realized it was possible to play the sport on tarmac (Asphalt), identified a permanently marked asphalt lane at the University of Nairobi Grounds which they have been using as their gliding surface for the last ten years.

Other lanes have also been marked at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) and at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
‘Practicing on tarmac aids our performance by building our endurance although we need to put more effort in our accuracy,” explains Tim Ngugi, the Chairman the sport that is affiliated to the Kenya National sports council and also registered with the Sports Department, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
 “Of course when we get to the real surface on ice the game is more enjoyable, we don’t tire easily and that gives us an advantage over our opponents.”
Despite having barely 100 members, the Ice Sport Stock of Kenya has sent teams to three World championships in Switzerland, Austria and Italy, several European events and the Africa Cup, which is largely dominated by Kenya, Namibia, Tunisia and Egypt.
“Our membership has increased over the years and we have gained admirers wherever we compete.”

Interestingly, Kenya hosted the Namibia in an African tourney in 2009 at KSMS.

Currently the team of 12, six men and six women has intensified its training ahead of the European Open Ice Stock championships set for March 2-7 in Bruneck, Italy, with the team set to leave on Monday(1).
“We are the only all black team that has landed us invitations to participate in the European events for nine successive years despite the fact that Namibia, Tunisia and Egypt play the Sport in Africa’.

But unlike other national squads that are dependant on Government support, the stockers are largely self-sponsored. The government has in the past enabled their participation to an international event.

Kenya will be competing in their usual category ‘B’ which is for emerging teams and according to Ngugi their target is to finish among the top six.
Kenya will be represented in three categories at the event: Individual target, Team target and Team game. In the last edition in Austria last year Kenya ranked seventh out of the ten countries.
The 2011 Africa Cup shall be held in August in Windhoek, Namibia while the 2012 World Championships shall be held in Germany in March.
Kenya has adapted the summer approach where the competitors use tarmac surfaces where this is possible by changing from winter to summer soles.

Kenya team
Men                                                       Women

Sebastian Oketch                            Janet Chumba
Daniel Ngari                                     Sarah Njuguna
David Muhindi                             Caroline Nyambura
Dickson Njaramba                           Judith Karimi
David Kamau                                    Esther Kaaria
Tim Ngugi                                    Laura Chumba
Sportsnewsarena Correspondent

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