Independent Amateur hockey league NAHL (Riga, Latvia) is the largest league in the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). It unites more than 80 teams and about 2 400 players in 8 leagues (including 2 oldtimers leagues).
The modern history of amateur ice hockey began in 1996, when Latvian team could enter the elite of world hockey. Possibly this fact was very important in the further development of amateur hockey in Latvia.
At the end of summer in 1996 a group of enthusiasts decided to unite unorganised groups of amateur hockey players and organize their 1st ice hockey championship for amateur teams. The tournament was successful - 7 teams took part in it (Krasaynie Leyumi, Bauska-Inchukalns, Tiesnieshi, Ledus Vaboles, Vakara Zinjas, Balsts, RTU). The first season 1997/1998 started with even more teams - 16 teams in two groups.
The first NAHL Championship took place in autumn 1999, where 7 teams participated (Anatta, Lushi, Vektor, Lattelecom, Jaunpils, Jurmala, Vikingi-Eglite.
In the season 2001/2002, 25 teams competed in two divisions. In the strongest group took part such teams as Anatta, Kurbads, Lushi, PD Electronics, Profsistems, Memphis/Smokers, Bergju nams, Viva sports 1, Viva sports 2, Mamuti, Buljdogi, DSM.
The increase in the number of participants required even more strength for organising the tournaments - Oleg Sirachenko, Aleksandr Mejleh, Sergey Sharkov, Eduard Anderson, Oskars Miljons, Guntars Precinieks and Aleksey Reshetnikov joined the NAHL management. They put the finishing touches to the regulations of competitions and elected the League Council.
Independent Amateur Hockey League «NAHL» has been an officially registered sport public organization since autumn 2001. It provides the hockey competitions not only in Riga, but also in other hockey halls of Latvia.
The season 2002/2003 started with an incredible number of hockey teams - 43! They are all divided into 3 groups - superleague (16 teams), high league (14) and the first league (13).
NAHL teams have an experience of friendly matches abroad - our hockey clubs participated in friendly matches in Canada, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Belarus un Russia.
The present time NAHL unites 80 amateur teams, which are divided according to their level into 6 leagues plus 2 old-timers leagues dividend into group А (ex-professionals) and В (amateurs). It’s worth mentioning also the teams that are playing in Latvian regions – their number is about 200!
NAHL competitions take place in 10 ice halls. We annually organize Latvian ice-hockey championship among amateur hockey teams (from September till March), and then – NAHL CUP in April. Besides regular Championship and NAHL CUP - NAHL organizes also tournaments, where participate ice-players from Lithuania, Estonia and also teams from Russia, Switzerland and Finland.
The hockey season begins with the Captains Match, at the end of the January we organize the Star Match. Spring is the season of Banks’ Cups, in May-June the following tournaments are usually organized - it’s “NAHL - PREMJERA” for the beginner teams and old-timers tournament 45+ “SENJOR”. Under the aegis of NAHL more than 1300 matches are organized. There are such weeks when the number of matches exceeds 55.
Almost all teams use the services of professional coaches. Such famous hockey players as Helmut Balderis, Oleg Znarok, Anatoly Jemelyanenko, Sergey Povecherovsky, Juriy Opulskis, Aleksandr Kerch take part in NAHL competitions.
Amateur teams from Lithuania are also interested in NAHL competitions. The Lithuanian team LEDO LINIJA from Shaulyay participates in NAHL championship.
The latest our project is the tournament OPEN ICE RIGA. The first part of it – SPRING 2008 – took place in March. The teams from Russia, Lithuania and Latvia took part in these games for the teams in the “C-club” group.
This summer NAHL plans to organize the next part of OPEN ICE RIGA – SUMMER 2008. In the aforementioned tournament can take part amateur hockey teams from different groups according to the international classification (co-ordinating with the organizers of the tournament). The tournament is planned to be organized in August 2008 in Riga.
NAHL competitions evoke great interest of Latvian enterprises, companies and financial institutions – Hansabanka, Parex Banka, Aizkraukles Banka, Rietumu Banka, Latvijas Biznesa Banka, Lattelecom, LMT, Latvijas Pasts, Balva, Monarh, RER, Rīgas Satiksme, ASK, Sāga – they all participate in NAHL organized competitions and tournaments.