Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The Philippine Ice Hockey Team is defending their SEA Games championship. “We trained to defend our gold medal. For us, as a team, it means almost everything,” says Steven Füglister, captain of the team.
Going for gold, however, is not without its challenges. For one, players are not able to get enough practice time because ice rinks are in malls, so during the day, it is only open for public skating. “We have to train in the off hours of the mall, which makes it a bit challenging for us,” says Füglister. “We only have one rink here where we train whereas in other ice hockey nations, there are more rinks of course.”
Despite this, Fuglister says that the hockey community is alive and well in the country. “[There are] about 200 people that ranges from six-year-old Filipino kids to 50-yr-old expats who work in the Philippines,” he shares. “We have the whole spectrum and it's a nice community, a good mix of people, and it's nice to be a part of it.”
He also adds that despite the difficulties — lack of ice rinks, accessibility of equipment, and media coverage — the core of the game has stayed the same. “Whether it's in the Philippines or in Canada, the enthusiasm that the players play with is the same everywhere,” he says.
Watch the video below to learn more about the team:
The ice hockey events for SEA Games 2019 are at the SM Megamall Ice Skating Rink, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 8, 2019.