Alive and kicking

Danish pioneers ice next generation

10.10.2017
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Young girls try out the sport in Copenhagen during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in 40 countries. Photo: Kasper Norup

COPENHAGEN – Down but never out. With traditions dating back to 1869, exciting times might soon be looming around the corner for Scandinavia’s oldest skating club.

It's not the winning but the taking part that counts. An old adage most certainly applicable for Kjobenhavns Skojteloberforening (KSF) as they continue their efforts to woo youngsters in the Osterbro district of Denmark’s capital and 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship hosts to the delights of hockey.

With the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend also having been played in two other locations in Denmark, Herning and Odense, the careful steps of progress made in the northern part of Copenhagen is a reason for rejoicing following a barren decade.

“We had 24 players out on the ice today with 14 of them being newcomers,” said KSF’s coach Henriette Holm, who was in charge of the event taking place on Saturday. “The participants combined their practice out on the ice together with the players with previous experience practiced skating, turning and passing. The beginners were between four to nine years old and of very different levels where our aim for them was to have as much fun as possible,” she said.

KSF added ice hockey to its program in 1938 and have since 1977 operating solely as a hockey club. The heart of their operations had for decades been based at the artificial ice rink, Osterbro skojtehal, built in 1960 until it was razed to the ground following the continued expansion of the area surrounding Denmark’s national football stadium. A drastic decision that was to leave the traditional hockey club in limbo.

“Our old rink was torn down in 2008 and since then we have been playing in a temporary one,” said Holm about the balloon construction where the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was taking place. “Having seen our old home being taken away from us, we have lost a lot of players and we are now in the process of trying to start all over again and rebuild the club,” she continued.

While KSF has seen clubs in the greater Copenhagen region and beyond surpass them, the club is very much at the core of Danish ice hockey heritage. With Denmark being in the spotlight this season as the World Championship will be hosted by Copenhagen and Herning, it is an excitement also felt at KSF as an excellent opportunity to try and capitalize the growing interest and rise again.

“The World Championship will definitely bring more attention to the sport and of course we hope to get more boys and girls joining our club,” said Holm as KSF hope to cater the new recruits in more modern surroundings with a new permanent rink expected to open its doors in 2020.

In the meantime, Holm and her colleagues will continue to make the best out of their current situation in their temporary home, and take solace from the snippets of progress being made. One such being a rookie who attending yesterday’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and already appears to be hooked.

“We had a four-year-old taking part, who enjoyed skating so much so she refused to stop. In the end, she got off the ice, but with a promise that she would come back to skate already the next day,” said Holm.

Click here for the #WGIHW tracker with more events from Denmark and around the world.

HENRIK MANNINEN

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