Because Taiwan is in the subtropics, it's difficult to maintain an ice rink. As a result of this ice skating is not very popular in Taiwan, and so neither is ice hockey. However, in recent years inline skating has become very popular and many people enjoy it. Inline hockey has therefore become more and more popular and many schools and universities now have their own teams.
Hockey was introduced to Taiwan by some visitors from the US and Canada about 10 years ago, but at that time we didn't have any decent-sized rinks. Therefore, we could only play inline hockey at small rinks which often had bad surfaces. But, as time went by, and more and more people watched the NHL and the Winter Olympics on TV, the interest in the sport grew. However, Taiwan still didn't have its own ice hockey or inline hockey leagues.
About 4 years ago a large ice rink was opened in Taichung
in mid-Taiwan, and Taiwanese hockey fanatics were finally able to
experience ice hockey for themselves. An ice hockey league was then established, although more than half the players were foreigners.
The games were also broadcast on TV. Two years ago another ice rink was
opened in Taiwanese capital, Taipei. Unfortunately, because of the poor
maintenance of both the ice surface and the facilities, not many people liked it and it was closed after only a few months because of a combination of high electricity costs and poor business.
The Taichung ice rink is still the only ice rink in Taiwan where people can watch ice hockey. Consequently most fans play inline hockey rather than ice hockey. Because of a lack of skill, poor facilities and few spectators the TV broadcasts were stopped and the ice hockey league was suspended last year (a few amateur teams still play every week). However, Taiwanese fans still enjoy hearing ice hockey news from abroad, especially the NHL!
Unlike ice hockey, the popularity of inline hockey spread very quickly here and there are a lot of people who enjoy it. Not only are there several teams but there are also tournaments like the Youth and Jung-jeng Cups. Most of the titles are held by the Max Inline Club which is one of the oldest clubs in Taiwan. There are also many inter-school tournaments. As a very young hockey nation Taiwan still needs to put a lot of effort into improving its skills and facilities in order to attract people to the game. We also need to establish contact with other countries to keep up to date with the rules and training programs, and take part in international hockey to gain more experience. I certainly hope that ice hockey becomes popular in Taiwan in the future.
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