In 2 months time I’ve documented for Western Union London 4 stories about poor people that wanted to change the community that they are living in. This little story is about a man named Karoly from Santimbru, near Miercurea-Ciuc that had a dream of making an artificial ice rink so the local people could enjoy their time skating after work.
After staying in Santimbru for 2 days with Karoly, talking with him, with the mayor and local workers I must say this story must continue in a way or another. Sometimes people talk a lot and don’t do much, but in this case Karoly worked, and fought for a solution for the ice rink and with the help from the mayor, local fire department and also with the effort form the villagers they have gone pretty far with this little dream 🙂
Let me tell you firstly a bit more about the situation from Santimbru and a little bit about the history of the ice rink.
Karoly made the first natural ice rink in 2005 on the land that the Catholic Church has in Santimbru, this went on for 3-4 year. The bad part is that this ice rink was really close to the river Olt that flows through the village and soon enough they had problems with floods. The other bad part was that the people who were playing on the ice rink had to pay rent for that land.
After this experience Karoly thought that he has a good land that he could use for the ice rink so he and the local people started thinking how to do the ice rink there.
First, they had to dig up a hole 30x60meters and pretty deep , but not that deep because if it’s too deep than the water wouldn’t froze as it should.
After digging the hole, clearing the land they had to find a solution to fill up the hole with water…a lot of water. Here is when the fire department was again really useful, but they also had to buy a water pump and gather all the hoses from the neighbour villages because the well was 400 meters away from the ice rink location. They pumped water for 3 days straight to fill the ice rink. Here you can see the well from where they pumped the water and down the hill where are some houses is the ice rink as well.
This is how the ice rink looked like in its early days. You can see there also the community watching the teams.
In the photo you can see that they had the ice rink surrounded with wood, that wood was also donated by the local people.
Something to mention is that from the beginning there was a local amateur team and only from 2009 when this ice rink was made, appeared the U10-U12 hockey team. This little fierce team could only train 2-3 months/year but they started to participate in local championships starting 2010 when they registered in the Romanian Hockey Association. At that time the town hall could help the kids with gas for their transportation and the parents would pay also some money for the accommodation, but soon enough the mayor couldn’t give them anymore money because the Romanian Government said that it’s illegal to do that…there is also a case where the town hall gave some money to a local hockey team and now the team has to give the money back to the Government. That’s sad…
Against all odds this little team went to a tournament in Budapest, Hungary and won 4 games out of 6 playing with some of the best teams in Hungary. People heard their story and donated their equipment to this young team and also they gave them some PVC protection for the ice rink that looks like this right now. Also after that tournament 3 kids transferred to the best hockey team in Romania.
In 2013 the mayor got some money from the government to build that little locker room you can see in the photo with the ice rink. In the locker room anyone who enters can see the teams history, medals and awards they won.
But before they had the locker room they’ve made a small U10 championship with 12 teams from all around Romania. The teams didn’t had a place to change, make a shower and prepare so Karoly took every single team to change and prepare in his house. 150 little kids changed their equipments and made shower in his house, and also the local community was really supportive, they’ve cooked food for every single kid, gave them refreshments and anything else they’ve needed. This is how a little corner of Karoly’s house looks now. There are skating pairs for the local people that don’t have any but want to skate. Also, Karoly told me that a skate shop owner was joking with him that the villagers from Santimbru bought all his skates in the winter.
Also there is a real problem with the equipment because an entire hockey equipment costs around 1000$ and the local people really can’t afford to invest that kind of money in their kids equipment. Some of the local people could afford and they are sending their kids to Miercurea Ciuc(the best hockey team in Romania) to train 3 times/week. It’s really expensive to do that as well. Here is how their equipment looks now.
The situation it’s really complicated because: the government has made it illegal for the mayor to help the team, there are no european funds for ice rink so they could apply, so if they want to continue to get better and participate to tournaments they have to get to the next level, which is to practice hockey all year long, not just 2-3 months per/year.
This is a small history of Karoly, the ice rinks and the hockey team. The ice rink brought so much to them in terms of relationships, joy, uniting them and finding something good to fight for 🙂