Mexican hockey revives

Mexican hockey revives

Davide Tuniz01 Nov 2017Davide Tuniz»

The new Mexican League starts with enthusiasm and the ambition of rivaling with his majesty the football


Hockey is finally back in Mexico at senior level after a hiatus of six year from the last attempt to create a national championship, crashed after only a season.

Now, with some money from the government and a main sponsorship, the Federation organized the new Liga Mexicana Elite, started last week, with four teams, Aztec Eagle Warriors, Mayan Astronomers, Olmec Stone Heads and Teotihuacan Priest, all from capital Mexico City, and many ambitions.

Eurohockey talked with Diego de la Garma, the pivotal reference of Mexican hockey, long-time coach of Natioanl team and now President of the Liga Mexicana Elite de Hockey (LMEH)

              Diego De la Garma

President of the Liga Mexicana Elite

Eurohockey: the first question is maybe the most logic: where it was the mexican hockey at senior level until now? The last tentative of a national competition at senior level was in 2010-2011 and lasted just one season, what happened then? Why is there never been a national championship?

Mr. De la Garma: We had a recreative league, the Sunday Night Hockey League (SNHL), this league its divided in 5 divisions, we have been doing that for the last 10 years, its great for the regular players, but for our top players it doesn’t help at all, its more like a beer league, lots of differences between teams and not structured hockey at all. We tried the LME back in 2010-2011 because we managed to get some money from the ministry of sports at that time, but it was only for one year, so after that we had to postpose the project.

Now, we do have some money from sponsors and from the Mexican ministry of sports after the latest success with the women´s program so we are able to put it together again and the SNHL will continue as a lower tear league.

Eurohockey: What is the goal of new LME? and how is organized?

Mr. De la Garma: The goal is to build the foundations for a Mexican Pro Ice Hockey League in the near future, where all players get payed, have some foreigns players that can help us to develop our level and eventually playing for Mexico at the IIHF competitions and of course with all this set we want to be able to earn a spot at IIHF higher pools, Div 1B or why not Div 1A.

This season we will have 4 teams with the OC of the LMEH putting them together, the OC selected and drafted the top players that currently live in Mexico, each team will play 12 game and then we will have a semi final game 3 vs 2 and the winer of that game will play the championship against the team that ended up in 1 place the regular season. 

We managed to get some help from our sponsor to pay all the expenses for running this league and the winning team will have a small $ bonus at the end of the season.

So in just a few words, this season is all about creating the league, showing people in Mexico and our sponsors what we can do and where we can get with a project like this one in Mexico, get every body in Mexican Hockey believe and buy in to this great project, so for the following season we can have more sponsorship and interest that will help the league to grow and have a better level of hockey overall.

Eurohockey: In a country monopolized by football, is there space for the growth of hockey?

Mr. De la Garma: Yes, a lot, Mexicans really like hockey, its just is still a small sport, but during the last 5 years we have been able to open 6 new rinks all over the country (4 more are coming) and people is starting to realice that we have Hockey in Mexico and we can be good at it, out of the non traditional hockey countries we are probably one of the top countries in less than 30 years of having the sport in Mexico and currently we are starting to compete with countries that have played the sport for as long as I remember, with more rinks, players and a pro league, so that talks about the potencial of Mexican Hockey.

Eurohockey: Besides the amazing logos of the teams, have you a marketing plan to popularize the league? TVs broadcast, merchandising, visibility in the media etc

Mr. De la Garma: Yes, we are working on that, we will have merchandising as soon as the next games and we are talking with some TV broadcasters to try to find a deal that make sense for both sides. This season we will be streaming all games in our Facebook site and for the next season with bigger sponsorship we can broadcasted worldwide.

Eurohockey: Teams are all from Mexico City, any plan to expand the league also in the country?

Mr. De la Garma: Teams are from Mexico City because most of the top players in the junior and senior level are from Mexico City (95%), where we currently have 6 official size rinks and most of the top hockey clubs are located, but with all the new rinks that have been built during the last years all over the country in time this will change. Definitely, we want to expand to 6 teams as soon as we can, we are really close of being able to have a team from Monterrey, Puebla and Querétaro, actually players from this places are playing in the league to grow support of the fans there and in two years have a team there.

Eurohockey: With two superpowers of hockey as neighbors, have you any program of clinics, seminars, refresher courses witth US and Canada Hockey?

Mr. De la Garma: Yes, we have a really good relationship with both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada and we are constantly looking for new ways of partnership for growing the game in Mexico, we had some coaches clinics years ago, teams from USA and Canada comping to play at the Pan Am Tournament and we are sending some coaches to get certified over there, as an example I´m a certified HP1 coach and I´m finishing my HP2 Hockey Canada certification.

Eurohockey: Are teams allowed to sign imports? Do you think to attract the Us players with Mexican roots?

Mr. De la Garma: Yes, each team can have 4 imports for this season, we do have some imports right now, Canadians, Russians, Swiss and german players currently playing in the league, some of them played really good hockey back home but now they are living in Mexico, we are planning for next season to bring some imports per team that will elevate the level of hockey in the LMEH, but first we have to develop the league, show to our sponsors what we can do and what they can get out of the LMEH to get a bigger budget and being able to pay for those players. Currently our sponsors are really happy with the way things are working out, so I think we are one or two seasons away of starting to have import players in our league.

Eurohockey: A semi-professional league is certainly a promising step to increase the hockey in the country.  How do you see the future of hockey in Mexico?

Mr. De la Garma: Brilliant, the way things are working out with this league, I think we can eventually build a strong league with 8 teams, 10 import players per team that will push our players to get better and will open for us the chance of bringing players with double citizenship that after two years of playing here with be able to play for the Mexican National Team, with this we will certainly have a real chance of getting Mexico to the olympics or at least to the top divisions.

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