Hockey in Malta? Yes! At least, I was hoping there would be for my novel, Possession: a comedy of wrong belongings, which is set in Malta. One of my main characters spent many years in Canada where he became totally hooked on hockey and then returned to Malta. If Malta has hockey, then there would be a whole sub-story for him around the sport.
Valletta, the serene, snapped during my time there in 2018/19.
Hockey is oh-so-Canadian and oh-so-northern - not the kind of sport you'd expect to have in a place that looks like the photo above. But there are lots of southerly countries that play. In fact, in my research, I learned that the Middle East has a whole league. There are the Mighty Camels in the Emirates, the Dubai Vipers, and the Abu Dhabi Storms. Camels and vipers and sand and hockey - how awesome!
But Malta is a tiny country with a population of only a bit more than half a million. Is there enough demand for hockey for rink to be built and supported?
It turns out there was a Malta hockey team at one point. They were called the Pirates. Arrr! I found a story from 2009 in the Maltese Canadian Association newsletter. The piece says that the team was mainly comprised of Canadians expats of Maltese origin. According to the article, Malta did have an ice rink at one point, but it closed in 2003, and the team formed only after that. Was it a protest? It's not clear. In order to play, the team had to travel to rinks in other countries. There was some excitement, at the time, about a new ice rink that was about to open in Sicily, just a 90-minute ferry ride away. The team even participated in the Middle Eastern hockey tournament hosted in Dubai and finished as the runners up - which I think is pretty great, given they didn't have ice to practice on!
Here's a photo of the brave Pirates from the Maltese Canadian Association newsletter.
But, alas, it was all short-lived and hasn't revived. There have been temporary ice rinks, from time to time, given over to ice skating performances. But sadly, no hockey rink and no more hockey, at least up to the time when my novel takes place.
So, I had to figure out a different sport for my character to be obsessed about and I settled on - roller derby! But that's another story!