The World Table Hockey Association, Inc.

History of Table Hockey in Ukraine

Foreword” by Gregory Scoma

The game of table hockey has existed for more than ninety years in various parts of the world. In Ukraine, table hockey was not well-known, not widely-available or popular.

That is, until a single event triggered table hockey becoming known to Ukrainians and created its dramatic rise in popularity. It did not, however, make table hockey games widely available. That would come decades later.

What was this event? Who was involved?

It involved a man known by all Ukrainians and people of the former Soviet Union. All of the nation’s knowledge, grit, and determination to succeed was embodied by this one man. His achievement was the fruit of their collective effort. It was also a milestone in the existence of mankind.

Who was this person? What was the connection between him and table hockey? And, why table hockey?

A clue, he was a “keen sportsman and played ice hockey as a goal keeper.”

Today, as a result of his playing table hockey, table hockey is readily available for sale in every toyshop and you can easily find someone to play against, because it has evolved into a competitive sport played by many Ukrainians who travel freely to international competitions.

But, how did that happen?

This is the story of table hockey’s rise to popularity in Ukraine.

History of Table Hockey in Ukraine by– Yana Savchuk, Chevrnsti, Ukraine

The history of this ‘table’ sport in Ukraine goes back to the 1960s. It all started with a short episode on TV where Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut (astronaut), played table hockey side by side with professional ice hockey -players. Afterwards, table hockey became one of the most exciting games of that time.
As a fact, during that period, Ukraine was a part of Soviet Union. At that time, it was nearly impossible to get the game. Even ready-made toys were considered an untold wealth: not because of the price, but shortage. Those, who were lucky enough to have one, had been very popular among friends. Nowadays, the modern hockey games are brighter and definitely more attractive. Still, many adults would prefer nostalgic version.
As for the first versions of the table hockey game – they were made of metal and plastic. The signs were made in Russian language (Ukrainian was prohibited at that time). Thought, sometimes the names of the teams were mentioned on the scoreboard. Quite often, hockey sticks got stuck in slots, and there were many blind zones where you couldn’t reach the game piece.

Photo Credit: Table ice hockey game “Hokkei” (“Hockey”). 1980s. The one you could find in toyshops at that time. The teams and players are named after characters of a well-known soviet cartoon “Shaibu! Shaibu!” [“Give me the puck! Give me the puck!”].
Photo by Dar Veter. 08 May 2011. Wikimedia Commons.

As a rule, the majority of the games were neutral with red players and blue players. It has been very convenient and definitely popular with parents and children. Few people even used to watch live television translations first, and then reproduce the matches on the board game.

Photo Credit: Table hockey game “Hokkei” (“Hockey”). Issued in 1980s. Version with neutral teams (Red and Blue team).
Photo by ForeverArtic. 04 October 2011. Kropyvnytskii Forum (Kirovograd Forum)
Table Hockey from USSR (1984)

In the mid 90s, National Table Hockey Federation was founded in Kiev. “Kiev Championship” and “Caponier Cup” were held at Kosyi Caponier Museum. Meanwhile only federation members could take part in “Federation Cup”. Only table hockey game “Aktubrenthen”, made in Soviet Union, was used at those championships. The matches consisted of two periods – five minutes each. It had been prohibited to shake the game board. The goals made by hockey sticks were scored, but the bounced shots were not taken into consideration. Miniatures, that scored the goal, were fixed by the jury as well as the time of a goal.

Photo Credit: “Aktubrenthen”. Ice hockey table game “Hokkei” (“Hockey”) produced in Kazakhstan. The one, used by table hockey players in Kyiv during first championships in Ukraine.
Photo by DRA87. 04 August 2016. Soviet War-time Toy

The tournaments had up to 15 competitors. It looked like a mini-copy of a big hockey game. There were around 4 playing stations and each one had a name for that. The judges were chosen among participants.
Yevheniy Rohachevskiy was the first man to bring “Stiga” version of table hockey game to Ukraine. At that time, the “Aktubrenthen” games were not produced anymore. Therefore, the organization searched for an alternative. Someone had found “Stiga” Contests in Europe and decision was taken immediately! Yevheniy went to the Czech Republic and bought all the stuff for future “Stiga” Contests in Ukraine. By the end of the 20th century, all the active table-hockey players in Kyiv switched on this game.

Photo Credit: Yevheniy Rohachevskiy. The man who brought “Stiga” to Ukrainian table hockey players. Photo by Oleg Yunakov. 11 March 2016. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

The first Kyiv Table Hockey Championship was held on March 16, 1999. On that day all the players were united in small clubs. Each player represented their club and that is why the club names were displayed on the scoreboard, instead of participants’ names. Players did not like the “Stiga” game at first, because it seemed to be very restricted comparing with the “Aktubrenthen” game they used before. Anyway, the players did not have choice as the rest of the world started to play “Stiga”. Two weeks later, two men from Kyiv (Olexii Panferov and Dmytro Kudrytskii) joined World Championship in Germany. Their results have been far from the pedestal, but still Mr. Panferov was 67th, and Mr. Kudrytskii was 61st.

Today, the 1999 Kyiv Championship is considered to be the first official ITHF championship in Ukraine.

Nowadays, table hockey is well known in central and eastern parts of Ukraine. The biggest club is located in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Its most active and competitive members always do their best to join international events and show the world that Ukraine is also in the game.

— Sources and Citations —
1) Shalomayev, Mykhail. “Part 1. Introduction to STIGA”. NaHok Table Hockey in Ukraine. 16 May 2009. <https://boardhockey.org.ua/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=319&pop=1&page=0&Itemid=37>
2) Unknown author. “Table hockey 1971.” Soviet War-time Toy. By DRA87. 04 August 2016. http://toyarmyussr.in.ua/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=7970
Copyright © Yana Savchuk, WTHA

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The World Table Hockey Association, Inc.