Cancer 5, 2078, m249
In an unexpected turn of events, Hockey has found a new kind of home on Mars.
It certainly isn't how things were supposed to turn out according to Fredrick Seulovik. The CEO of Ice Sports Mars Organization was responsible for developing the Martian-flavoured variant, training volunteers to play hockey, and then unleashing it in two back-to-back exhibition rounds across select colonies.
It didn't rocket to success to become the next professional league on Mars, but neither has it fizzled out.
“I had hoped that hockey would have followed in MAFL’s footsteps to become a legitimate professional sport," said Seulovik, "But it was undone by the perceived lack of skill. I was convinced we could make competent skaters and convincing hockey players in the 3 month program we developed but, clearly, it wasn't enough time."
There was no shortage of awkward moments on the ice, but the players played their guts out and that passion is what generated excitement for the game. After the program ended, the volunteer-players were disbanded and returned to their respective settlements, but many of them continued to long for the game.
"I admit, I felt silly every time we got on the ice and in front of a crowd," says Carl Lindberg, former forward with the Wildcards, "But there hasn't been a day that has gone by where I don't think about lacing up and getting out there again."
Enter the Martian Amateur Hockey League Enthusiast Network, or MAHLEN as they call themselves.
The founding members of MAHLEN are previously volunteer test players from the ISMO training program. Unlike the MAFL, the group is a collective of local chapters. With one in each of the participating settlements, each chapter is responsible for the fundraising and administration of local teams.
Though this may not be what Fredrick Seulovik wanted, he admits he is ‘inspired' by the passion and spirit of his former players, so much so that he has licensed club names, equipment designs and seeded an undisclosed amount of funds to support the initial drive.
With limited budget, however, the chapters will need to get creative. It also promises to be a very challenging lifestyle for organizers and players. All members will keep their respective day-jobs, with practice in the evenings, and matches reserved for the weekends.
"It will require a lot of dedication," says Janice Campbell, former captain of Wildcards and now head of the Marineris chapter, "We want to give the sport a legitimate go, but none of us want to compromise our professional responsibilities to colony or employers. It will be a tough balancing act, for sure."
Whether or not this league will get direct support from colonies remains to be seen, but MAHLEN could be eligible for health grants; tight on funds, every little bit will count.
One thing they certainly are not short on is motivation. Already, 43% of the former ISMO players have either already signed on or express interest to join a team in MAHLEN. Another 30% remain undecided. Considering there were over 150 recruits at ISMO training camp, it's a healthy base to build on.
"This is going to happen," says Vicki Li, former Moles star player, "There's nothing that will stop us from making our little-league a reality."
What we know so far:
- Team sizes will be similar to ISMO exhibitions... 6-8 players per team, playing a 4v4.
- Some chapters have already started exploring outdoor rink options, where Mareotis, Korolev and Novyimir chapters will be able to rent existing ISMO arenas.
- San Olympus has enough players to potentially host 2 teams; former Moles players plan on sticking together.
- Mareotis has a rink, but not enough players
- Novyimir (Cosmonauts) and Korolev (Khimik) in strongest position to retain original team members.
- Marineris has acquired the club names 'Super Coliders' and 'Cosmic Rays'
- Wildcards have officially been adopted by Wendland Colony.
- Schedules have not yet been announced.