Bahrain's only ice hockey rink, located near the U.S. naval base, has provided many U.S. service members an unexpected cultural experience. The league's 30 members make up four teams; of these 30 members, 10 are Americans.
Navy Exchange employee Noah Spevak, with 20 years' hockey experience to offer is in large part responsible for the league's official formation. Once a group of makeshift teams playing informal pickup games, the now formal league competes with DHL-sponsored equipment and jerseys, and adheres to a rulebook authored by Spevak himself.
"It's been a lot of long nights, and a lot of long days just putting things together," Spevak commented on his involvement in the process.
Spevak didn't undertake the project on his own, however; Bahraini native and NHL enthusiast Tamer Fakhroo assisted with the task.
"I thought this is the best game ever, because these guys play like [soccer] and they get to skate on the ice, and they get to fight. So basically they're doing three things in one game," Fakhroo explained.
Fahkroo further described the league as "a dream that came true", expressing gratitude for the Americans' role in the league's development:
"A big part of developing the game here is our friends from the U.S. base, because they came here, they developed the game, they helped with coaching."
Fellow Bahraini player Sameh Hejazi also weighed in on the experience:
"[The Americans] help me a lot. We get a lot of experience from them."
The Bahraini players aren't alone in gaining experience; their American counterparts are gaining experience as well, albeit that of a different nature.
"When we go to dinner as a team or as a group, you see the younger military guys asking the younger Bahraini guys about Islam and about Bahrain," Spevak stated. "They are getting that one-on-one interaction with somebody their own age."
While both Bahraini and American groups are happy with the league's progress, they are not necessarily satisfied; that is to say, there is always more to be done. Fahkroo, for example, hopes to register the league with the International Ice Hockey Federation. In order to qualify for such membership, however, the team will need to be headquartered in a full-size hockey rink.
Nonetheless, Fahkroo remains hopeful.
"So, fingers crossed, as soon as we have an official ice rink this game is going to spread," Fakhroo shared.