Over 1,000 players celebrate

Global Girls’ Game gives women’s hockey a boost

12.03.2018
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A festival in blue and white: More than 1,000 female players took part in the Global Girls’ Game in 37 countries like here at the brand-new rink in Sisak, Croatia.

Over 1,000 women and girls participated in the Global Girls’ Game. The puck went around the world for this weekend-long game in 37 countries.

The Global Girls’ Game started on Saturday morning in Auckland, New Zealand, and ended on Sunday night in Canada in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. During these 37 games the teams scored goals representing Team Blue and Team White before handing over to the next country. The score went back and forth, and in the end Team Blue beat Team White 134-129. But the score was of course not the most important matter of the Global Girls’ Game.

Over 1,000 women and girls were on the ice for the 37 games in 37 countries in Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa, North and Latin America – and many more in national events accompanying the Global Girls’ Game.

In some countries it was just a game. For some countries organizing such a game even meant going abroad like for the Irish players, who have to travel north to Belfast to play hockey due to the lack of an ice rink in the Republic of Ireland. Similarly the Singaporean women played north, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Not because they don’t have an ice rink but because most of the players were there for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia.

In bigger hockey countries it was easier to organize such a game and some made it a big event of its own. Hockey Canada selected players from all across the country to convene in the Toronto area, visit sights like the Hockey Hall of Fame or the Niagara Falls before playing ending the global event with the last part, a game in Mississauga.

In some countries it was a league game that represented their country like in the United States a game of the NWHL in Boston, in Russia a game of their league WHL in Ufa, and in the United Arab Emirates the clubs Dubai Gazelles and Abu Dhabi Storms played each other with mostly desert between their cities.

In the United States and in Australia a national long game over several time zones was organized with one counting to the Global Girls’ Game while involving many more female players in the other events. And in other countries there were activities surrounding the game from try-hockey events to Global Girls’ Game cakes and real penguins in blue and white for the ceremonial face-off of the second game in Japan.

At the other end of the scale the Global Girls’ Game, now in its third edition, allowed women’s hockey to recruit new players in new cities and new countries.

Take Lithuania as an example for a success story of the event. The biggest of the three Baltic countries didn’t have women’s hockey until using the first Global Girls’ Game to assemble its first-ever women’s team that played against a Latvian team. One year later Lithuania had 34 female players on its own to have its own domestic women’s hockey game. And this year Lithuania has its first women’s hockey club, the Hockey Girls based in Elektrenai, the city Darius Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus hail from. It plays all its games in Latvia where it became the fourth member in the league. Since it was busy competing there during the weekend, it was involved both in the Latvian leg of the Global Girls’ Game on Saturday as well as in Lithuania’s part of the Global Girls’ Game on Sunday.

Latvia is the only Baltic country with a league but while Lithuania enters the stage, Estonia tries to re-establish women’s hockey and used the Global Girls’ Game to launch a tournament and find out about the level of interested players in the country to be able to start a championship in the future.

Ukraine played for the second time and has meanwhile established a women’s hockey league to be able to use the Global Girls’ Game for young players and to recruit more girls to take up the sport. And in Croatia the new ice arena in Sisak – the first time the city has an indoor rink – was used to have 6-year-old girls play their first game at a full-size ice rink along with older girls and adults.

In some countries with a bigger pool of player the game was a good opportunity to check out the talent like U16 teams in Great Britain and U14 teams in Switzerland playing each other. In the Czech Republic a training for U16 players across the country was organized with the 13 best players joining the U16 women’s national team players to play the Global Girls’ Game. That made it 63 girls who were involved in the Czech event.

Unfortunately not all were that lucky. A record number in participating countries was missed as the events in Belgium, Greece and Spain had to be cancelled at short notice due to rink and schedule issues, which will make the countries the more eager to be on board next season when the fourth Global Girls’ Game will be played.

The event has established itself as a global recruitment event for women’s hockey beside the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend that will go into its 8th edition on 6-7 October 2018 (save the date and ice time!).

The Global Girls’ Game has shown how bigger and smaller hockey countries organize their events in many different ways but were connected by one and the same passion for hockey and to grow the game. Despite counting the goals, the Global Girls’ Game eventually only has winners.

Click here to read more about the various games in 37 countries.

MARTIN MERK

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