Field hockey on ice (bandy) was first played in Belgium at Brussels and Antwerp in 1899. Soon, bandy players began learning to play ice hockey and in 1908 the Koninklijke Belgische Ijshockey Federatie (Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation -- Federation Royale Belge der Hockey sur Glace) was founded. The Belgians were very active during the early days of ice hockey in Europe. On December 8, 1908, Belgium joined France, Bohemia, England, and Switzerland as the fifth member of the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace-which became the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1911.
Hockey quickly became a popular sport in Belgium and the first national championship was held in 1912. The Belgians also had great success on the European scene, beating France 6-2 in their first international game in 1906. At the first official European Championship in 1910, Belgium tied gold medal-winning Great Britain 1-1 and earned the bronze medal. The country repeated this achievement in 1911 and 1914. Belgium won the European Championship in Munich in 1913 and earned a silver medal in 1927. The first Olympic hockey tournament (which would later be recognized by the IIHF as the first World Championship) was held in Antwerp in April of 1920 in conjunction with the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. The creation of the "B" Pool World Championships in 1951 did not alter Belgium's fortunes. The final straw was a 28-0 loss to Italy in 1955 after which the national team withdrew until the introduction of the "C" Pool competition in 1961. The Belgians recorded their first win in 25 years at the 1977 "C" pool event in Denmark when they surprised Spain by a 7-6 score. Still, Belgium did not always ice a team at the World Championships. Since 1987, the Belgians have participated annually at either the "C" Pool or "D" Pool World Championships.
Paul Loicq, who was president of the IIHF for 25 years (1922 to 1947), is the most famous Belgian in the history of international hockey. He was a member of the 1913 European championship squad. The country's most legendary hockey player was Jef Lekens of Antwerp. He played in nine World and/or European championships between 1929 and 1955 and was also an international referee during the 1950s. Lekens also coached Belgium's National Team from 1961 to 1966.
Brussels IHSC won the inaugural national championship in 1912. They were soon challenged by local rivals Cdp. Le Puck Anvers captured five straight titles in the 1920's. Brussels IHSC dominated from 1938 to 1949 and, later, in the 1960's and 1970's. Since 1980, HIJC Herentals, Olympia Anvers and Olympia Heist have been the most successful teams. By the 1990's, the Belgian Ice Hockey Federation registered nearly 1,000 players. A prominent figure at the outset of the decade was Ike Pellegrims who had been chosen the top defenseman at the 1989 "D" Pool World Championships.