TAIPEI CITY – The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend gave a big boost to women’s ice hockey in Chinese Taipei and has forced the government to take notice.
It comes at a good time as the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation boosts its international participation with teams in four categories in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. Joining the men’s U18 team from the last few years will be the women’s team, the men’s senior and men’s U20 national teams.
At the Taipei Arena, where 100 girls participated in the event, they will also host the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification.
The number included members of the national women’s team, the national women’s coach and 30 newcomers to the sport. Click here for a video from the event in Taipei City.
“There were 20 girls who had been on skates before but were new to ice hockey,” Jae-Yu Huang of the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation said. “There were another 10 who had never been on skates before.”
The youngest newcomer was aged five and the oldest was in her early 40s.
“The new girls said it was fun,” Jae-Yu Huang said. “Some had been on ice before but hadn’t tried ice hockey.
“They showed promise as they played with the stick and tried to control the puck. It was an exciting experience and they found it interesting.
“There were a lot of people on the ice, but there was no pressure and they had fun. It was a successful event.”
Members of the Chinese Taipei national women’s team helped the newcomers to gain confidence on the ice.
“There are only three women’s teams in the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation women’s league so we are short of people,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
The Chinese Taipei Federation recognized the importance of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and put a lot of effort into promoting the event.
“We wanted to promote the event to the public but before that we highlighted its importance to members of the national team and they came out on the day to help us,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
“They showed the new people how to skate and play on the ice. They assisted with photo shoots and had a lot of fun.”
The basics were worked on first.
“The girls were taught how to balance their body and walk on ice,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
“They were then given hockey sticks and tried to walk with them and control the puck.”
There was an advertising board which was the backdrop when photographs were taken of the girls on the ice.
But it was not always plain sailing because some of the girls fell over on the ice.
“Yes of course some of them fell over,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
“But members of the national team held their hands as they started to walk and there was a red ‘Walker’ to hold and help them gain confidence on the ice.”
It was down to the basics for those who had never been on skates before.
“We helped them put on the skates before they walked on the ice,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
“It was a bit scary at first for some of the girls but the national team members were by their side to help them.”
The emphasis of the day was to give the girls a fun day on the ice and they decided not to give them a lecture on the history of ice hockey in Chinese Taipei.
“They can get that information from members of the national team and from others who were assisting in the event,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
The coach of the national women’s team, Andrew Yin, was one of the main organizers of the girl’s hockey weekend.
Other instructors on the day were students Chih Ling Liu and Chih-Chen Hsieh and office woman, Wan-Chih Yao.
The Girls weekend was positive for the future of hockey in Chinese Taipei.
“We live in a tropical country and don’t have much natural ice,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
There are no outdoor ice rinks and just seven indoor rinks in the country.
“The first step is to build more ice rinks to get more people used to skating on ice,” Jae-Yu Huang said. “We want more people who are keen to try ice hockey.
“The Girls’ Day was a very good event and the first step to get more girls interested in ice hockey. It engaged the public and getting 30 new girls to try ice hockey for the first time was good for us.”
Being part of the IIHF’s world-wide campaign that was held in 42 countries made the 100 players on the ice realize that there was something special in the sport.
“It was a good event for the future of ice hockey in my country,” Jae-Yu Huang said. “The event was free to the public and some girls who just came along to skate joined in with us.”
Most of the spectators during the day were the parents of the girls but a few others who saw the posters came to see what was happening.
Chinese Taipei has been a member of the IIHF since 1983 and has 960 active players. There are 696 junior players, 179 women and 91 referees. The population of Taiwan is 23.5 million.
An active executive is promoting the sport and two World Championship events will be held in Chinese Taipei next year, the U18 World Championship Division III Group A on the men’s side in March and the division Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification in December.
It will be the third women’s event held in Taiwan. The Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia Division I was held in 2015 and this year but in December the competition will come from further away as Hong Kong, South Africa, Bulgaria and Belgium will play at Taipei Arena.
“We have had a plan to train the players and improve the standard of women’s ice hockey since 2014,” Jae-Yu Huang said.
“The training has brought excellent results and lifted our standard to a level so that we can now compete in the qualification tournament.
“It is a very important event for us as we seek to develop women’s ice hockey in Taiwan. It will help us get the government’s attention as we seek to raise the profile of women’s hockey.”
Chinese Taipei has been playing in the Challenge Cup of Asia but this will be a step up for the sport.
“It is very important for us to have international championships hosted in Taiwan,” Jae-Yu Huang said. “It is an important step for us to catch the attention of the government to help promote our sport.”
The best players in the Chinese Taipei women’s team are Hui-Chen Yeh and Tzu-Ting Hsu.
Women’s ice hockey was first played in Chinese Taipei in 2002 and a three-team women’s league is played from July to December. The championship final is played in February. The teams are: Taipei Girls Power, New Taipei Scorpions and Kaohsiung Eagles. No expats play women’s ice hockey in Chinese Taipei.
The Chinese Taipei men’s team first played at the World Championship at Perth, Australia, in 1987 in the D-Pool. It tied Hong Kong at two but did not win any of its games.
There was a 13-year international hiatus until the men’s team won silver medals at the IIHF U18 Asia-Oceanic Championships in 2000 and 2001. Over the last three years Chinese Taipei’s men’s national team has been the top nation at the Challenge Cup of Asia.