Girls hockey goes viral

World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend’s ‘Long Game’ skated through Penticton on the weekend.

From scrimmages in Mexico City to skating drills in Istanbul, the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend (WGIHW) was an unmitigated success as female youth from around the world took to the ice.

Thousands participated in the Oct. 8-9 event that was organized to get girls active and interested in ice hockey. On the IHHF website, photos and stories from across the world including countries as far away as Australia, South Africa, Taiwan and the Ukraine continue to stream in, a testament to the WGIHW accomplishment.

“The most amazing thing about our World Girls’ Day was how women organized, marketed, coached, refereed, played, scored, volunteered, announced, photographed and facilitated the whole event,” said Julie Cantrill, representative from the Ice Hockey Australia Women’s Council. “We had people traveling up to 150 km to take part either as players or volunteers.

“On the ice, there was a full spectrum of ages from 5 to 45 years old and a huge range of ability and experience from complete novices through to national team players. Mothers and their daughters, aunties and their nieces, sisters, friends, and team mates from roller derby, street and inline hockey came to experience the ‘ice’. The atmosphere was fun, supportive and relaxed, and everyone had a great time.”

In Canada, the event aimed to celebrate and grow the Female Game from coast to coast and unite Canadians through grassroots programming that is led by local communities, minor hockey associations and families. One such event was the ‘Long Game’ that skated through Penticton on the weekend.

The Long Game, as part of the celebration for WGIHW, started with players from atom to senior in Newfoundland. The torch, and the running score, was then passed off to Nova Scotia and continued across the country.

When it got to the Okanagan the running score was 47-45, as Bantam aged Penticton and Kelowna girls laced up their skates to continue the challenge. When the buzzer sounded Kelowna increased the lead for Team White to a 51-46 score against Penticton’s Team Red.

In Hong Kong, 120 participants between the ages of eight and 53 laced up to skate with members of their national team. The Netherlands held their first ever WGIHW by setting up stations for girls to learn the basic skills of hockey.

The Mexican Ice Hockey Federation did not only host the first round of the Women’s Olympic Qualification at the IceDome in Mexico City, it also used the opportunity to invite girls and women to try hockey at the rink. Both events were a success, and the women’s national team beat Turkey and Hong Kong to advance to the next round of qualification in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

WGIHW included over 300 events ongoing across Canada, and over 30 countries participated, holding try-it days and skills camps to exhibition games and opportunities to meet national team players.

With files from the Penticton Western Star.

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