Ice hockey as an organized sport has been played in South Africa since the 1930's. Its origins date back to the construction of an ice rink at Wembley Stadium during the Empire Exhibition in Johannesburg circa 1935. The sport's popularity reached its peak in the late 1960s and early '70s when a semi-professional league was operated out of the old Wembley rink. The high level of immigration into South Africa brought many people who had been exposed to hockey in their home countries. The majority of players in South Africa's first semi-pro league formed ethnically based teams of Canadians, Germans, Austrians, and Swiss with some South African players included. By the 1970s, attendance for games dropped and the importation of overseas players became more expensive. There was also a scarcity of ice available and little time for young players to learn to skate and practice.
The South African Ice Hockey Association was founded in 1936 and became a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation on February 25, 1937. In 1938, South Africa's hockey players played their first international game when they took on a team from Toronto. South Africa played its first official game at the "C " Pool World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 3, 1961 when they dropped a 12-3 decision to Yugoslavia. They finished fifth at this tournament and did not reappear until their third place finish in 1966. Political sanctions against South Africa's Apartheid policies left the country out of international hockey until the 1990's. After experiencing difficulties in "C" Pool from 1992 to 1995, South Africa withdrew for two years. They reemerged in 1998 as hosts of the "D" Pool World Championships.
In recent years, the construction of additional rinks in Johannesburg, as well as new facilities in Pretoria and Cresta, has seen an increase in the number of people learning to skate and subsequently become involved in hockey. Presently, there are nine ice rinks in South Africa including three that are of international size. The center of hockey in South Africa is the province of Transvaal. Almost 80 percent of the approximately 1,000 players in South Africa come from this area. National championships have been held in the country since 1992. South Africa's first national champion was the Roodenpoort Flyers.