This year we were delighted to be contacted by the Stena Line Belfast Giants who wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year with us. The home game against the Cardiff Devils on Sunday 4 February 2024, was the perfect opportunity and saw players wear a specially designed kit to celebrate the occasion.

Their website promoted the event and explained to fans the background and significance of the Lunar New Year. The game and the publicity surrounding it was a real bonus to our events raising profile and awareness. 

The Giants also explained the nature of the work Chinese Welfare Association is involved in and made the following generous pledge. 

“In support of the organisation’s commitment across local communities in Northern Ireland, all profits from the game night Shirt Off The Back raffle on Sunday 4 February 2024 will be donated to the Chinese Welfare Association.”


That raffle raised a grand total of £5,384.17 from the themed Shirt Off the Back and a percentage of retail jersey sales. This total will be donated to our work and we will be using it to support young people and our various programmes with them. 

We hope that this is the start of something truly ‘giant’ where we introduce our community to ice-hockey which interestingly is very popular in China. The Stena Line Belfast Giants’ community engagement is a valuable part of the work they do in our city and country and we pay tribute to their spirit of inclusivity and leadership. 

Chinese Ice Hockey

Interestingly Belfast’s sister city Shenyang is a popular centre for ice-hockey in China. Ice skating has always been popular with Nanhu Park and Beiling Park both having lakes that are cleared for skating, in the winter.  Some of Shenyang’s universities have ice rinks as well as four indoor skating rinks in the city. The “Shenyang Ice Eagles” hockey club consists of a mix of foreign and local players.they compete in tournaments with teams from other cities.

Kunlun Red Star is China’s first professional hockey club and was born in 2015. Based in Beijing, it plays in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a professional ice hockey league with teams based in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Russia.

Kunlun Red Star also owns a professional women’s ice hockey team, Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays, based in Shenzhen. Established in 2017, KRS Vanke Rays played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, with teams based in Canada and the United States.
From 2004 to 2017, several men’s ice hockey teams based in China played in Asia League Ice Hockey, a professional league made up of teams from Japan, South Korea, and the Russian Far East.
In 2015, Andong Song became the first Chinese-national drafted by a National Hockey League (NHL) team, a men’s professional league consisting of teams from Canada, and the United States. Song was drafted by the New York Islanders in the 6th round (172nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
In 2019, Rudi Ying became the first Chinese-native to score a goal in the KHL. An impending domestic league has been proposed by the Chinese Ice Hockey Association. The league is assumed to consist of eight clubs; four being the Kunlun Red Star, Jilin City Investment, Beijing Shougang and Zhongshang Hokay.

Just like the Belfast Giants Chinese teams are home to some great international talent who live and play their hockey in their country. They have stimulated interest locally in China and with the XXIV Winter Olympic Games hosted there China was proudly represented in the ultimate hockey tournament by both men’s and women’s teams.
The Women’s team achieved two victories – over Denmark and Japan, which was impressive since the Japanese team was significantly higher than the Chinese in the world rankings.

China is looking to expand the sport of hockey and attract teams from around the world to participate in tournaments like the “The Revitalization Cup”. Who knows where the sister city links could take the Belfast Giants next!