Earlier in June, we asked for Flames fans from around the world to tell us about their experiences cheering for the team from outside of Calgary. We did not expect to receive so many amazing replies from great fans all around the world.
So far, we’ve heard from fans spanning 102 cities and towns, 23 countries, and six continents. We’ve covered eight provinces and territories in Canada, and 19 states in the United States. The Flames community truly does cover the entire planet, and we’re lucky and proud to be part of that community. If you missed our post on the overall results and a coverage map, check it out here!
Full Global Flames Fan Series: Australia, England, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, Morocco, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Brazil, China, the United States, and Canada outside of Calgary.
Next up in our Global Flames Fan Series is a collection of experiences from our friends in Tajikistan, Morocco, and Tunisia! We’ve compiled responses to our questionnaire below from two Flames fans, the first living in Tajikistan and the second who followed the team in Morocco and Tunisia. Enjoy!
How did you become a Flames fan?
As an 8-year-old growing up during the 2004 cup run I became obsessed with the Flames. My family used to host these “playoff parties” where all the kids from school would come over and we would watch the games at my place, going out to play on the street during the intermissions. My favourite players were obviously Iginla and Kipper, but during that run, I fell in love with Jordan Leopold and Oleg Saprykin.
I was born and raised as a Flames fan in Calgary. When I lived in the city, I caught about a game a week, but when I moved away to study and work abroad it was much harder to follow my beloved team.
Tell us about your experience following the Flames from outside of Calgary.
I moved to Tajikistan from Calgary last summer, and as a big fan when I was in Calgary, I still follow the team closely here. Despite being a post-soviet country, most people here don’t really follow hockey. Except everyone knows the one summit series when the USSR beat Canada, so I have to deal with hearing that all the time when I mention I’m a hockey fan here. I don’t often get to watch games as the internet quality and time difference tend to mess things up but following the Flames (and playing fantasy hockey) is a great way for me to stay connected with my friends and family.
I found it incredibly difficult to be a Flames fan outside of Canada. I loved watching the games with friends, especially Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights that not having hockey fans around made it less fun. On top of that, I spent a year studying abroad in Morocco, where my internet was less than reliable. It was so bad that I couldn’t even stream the radio link. That being said, when I traveled, I sometimes had access to good quality internet and would wake up extra early to catch the games. During the 2015 playoff run I was in Tunisia and would wake up extra early to stream the games which was a really unique experience.
Do you watch games? If so, where do you typically watch and with whom?
Usually watch the extended highlights on YouTube when I wake up!
As mentioned above, I struggled to catch many of the games because of unreliable internet and when I could, I would often watch along. There were a couple of moments where I found hockey friends. I made a friend while travelling in the Middle East, so we would catch games together early in the mornings. I also introduced some of my colleagues to hockey while abroad.
What is the most popular sport where you live, and which teams? What challenges do you face following the Flames?
Football (soccer) – Istiklol FC, which is basically the Dushanbe team in the Tajik league. I don’t mind watching soccer, but it doesn’t compete with the speed an excitement of hockey. I also love basketball, which is more popular here than hockey is, so I can sometimes run into other NBA fans here, but never really hockey fans.
Definitely soccer- both Moroccan teams and Spanish soccer teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona.
What is the best experience you’ve had as a Flames fan from where you live?
Only lived here for a year, so nothing amazing has happened, but it feels great to chat with friends back home about hockey. It really helps me stay in touch with and connected to my friends and family. Fantasy hockey is something I really enjoy doing, but I miss watching the live stats as I usually sleep through games.
I was in London and really missing home so I found a Canadian bar called The Maple Leaf in downtown. They had Canadian beers, poutine and of course were streaming hockey games (although they were reruns from the night before). For a Canadian boy far away from home and hockey, this was a very very welcome start.
What is the worst experience you’ve had as a Flames fan from where you live?
Not being able to watch games because they are at ~4am for me definitely sucks. Also the fact that COVID-19 shut down the NHL meaning I couldn’t travel home for a vacation in the spring and watch the playoffs on the Red Mile, which I was really looking forward to.
My internet could not stream games at all in Morocco and it was really, really sad to not watch hockey every night. This was made hard by having to hear every morning about the second round playoff round losses in 2015 and not being able to live it live with the rest of the fan base.
Who is your favourite player and why?
Mangiapane is currently my favourite – I love how he keeps proving himself as a useful player at every level. He may not be the flashiest guy out there, but that guy works every shift.
Matthew Tkachuk for sure. He is such a strong hockey player, and never fails to make things interesting. I also love how strong he is off the puck, and how he makes his linemates look better when he is on the ice.
Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
Hockey has gotten me through some tough days when I miss home for sure. It’s a default topic when I call friends and family, and its definitely a source of joy for me when I watch a nice Flames highlight pack when I wake up in the mornings.
Thanks to these two Flames fans for providing such great answers to our questionnaire. It’s fascinating to see the reach of the team, even if these two fans were originally from Calgary.
Are you from Africa or the Middle East and follow the Flames? Tell us about your experiences being a fan in the comments or on social media.
Stay tuned for the next Global Flames Fan Series article featuring our friends from Brazil!