Hockey growing worldwide

More players, officials, rinks in 2013; new survey released


Belarus (left) is one of the fastest-rising programs among the top nations while the Czech Republic became the third country to reach the mark of 100,000 players. Only in Canada and the United States do more people play ice hockey. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

ZURICH – The International Ice Hockey Federation has published its annual Survey of Players. The findings show that more people are playing ice hockey, with higher numbers of officials and an increase in ice rinks showing altogether positive results for the sport.

In the 62 nations that were part of the survey and the IIHF Audit, the number of registered hockey players has grown 39,605 – or 2.47 per cent – to over 1.64 million.

The number of referees and linesmen involved in the game grew to by 3,863 officials or 5.48 per cent to 74,308.

Also the number of ice rink available to ice hockey has grown in the surveyed countries to 7,036 indoor ice rinks (plus 3.21%) and 7,893 outdoor rinks (plus 3.39%).

Click here for the entire table with numbers from 62 countries.

Some facts and figures:
  • Of the big hockey countries, the Czech Republic and Finland had the biggest growth. The Finnish player registration numbers went up from 56,626 to 66,636 (plus 17.68%) and the amount of hockey players in the Czech Republic rose from 95,094 to 107,722 (plus 13.28%) making it the third country in the world, and the first European country, to reach six digit registration numbers.
  • Also the numbers in the world’s biggest ice hockey nation went up. Canada has 625,152 registered ice hockey players compared to 617,107 last year. Hockey’s motherland is followed by the United States (510,279).
  • Germany also posted considerable growth from 27,068 to 34,256 players (plus 26.56%). Germany is now ranked seventh in player registration overtaking neighbour Switzerland.
  • Belarus’ numbers are growing each year thanks to the rapid buildup of ice rinks in recent years. The country had 14 rinks and 1,308 players ten years ago and has 33 rinks and 7,255 players now. That’s 84 per cent more compared to last year.
  • Hockey is also growing in Hungary. The strength of the national team dipped until a few years ago with aging players, but the numbers for junior players (plus 18.54%) and female players (plus 25.45%) continue to grow. Results have started to become visible as the U18 women’s national team managed to get promoted to the top division one year ago and this year to remain at the elite level with a sixth-place finish.
  • Lithuania experienced some of the biggest growth thanks to the establishment of a recreational league and youth hockey leagues in recent years with teams from several cities. The number almost doubled from 547 to 1,072 players.
  • Australia now has 20 (from 17) ice rinks used for ice hockey, and the number of U20 players has grown by 7 per cent in one year.
  • Bulgaria has had decreasing numbers and correspondingly low results of its aging national team in recent years, but the number of junior male (86%) and female (81%) players has risen sharply last year indicating the potential for a reversing trend.
  • Registration numbers in Korea are growing in the host country of the 2018 Olympics, from 1,636 to 2,106 players (plus 28.73%). The numbers went up especially among youth players since 1,796 players are under the age of 20.
  • Fast growing hockey programs, thanks in large part to more ice rinks and ice time, can be found in Hong Kong and Thailand. Hong Kong has now 1,337 registered players and will stage its comeback in the World Championship program with the men’s, men’s U18 and women’s national teams. Thailand’s number went up from 114 to 145 and it might grow higher with more rinks projected in the country that recently hosted its first IIHF event, the 2013 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, in Bangkok.
  • A source for growth in some countries is more female participation in the game. Today 11 per cent of the players are female. Canada and the U.S. are also the leading nations in this category followed by Finland, Sweden and Germany. Considerable growth can be observed in top women’s hockey countries like the Czech Republic (plus 7.9%), Finland (plus 21.3%), Germany (plus 26.3%), Hungary (plus 25.5%), Norway (plus 21.3%) and Russia (plus 12.4%) but also in countries where women’s hockey is in its beginning stages like Belarus, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa. At the same time numbers were significantly dwindling in some other countries including Australia, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. The worldwide trend in women’s hockey, however, was the same as in the last few years: consistent annual growth.
  • The highest women’s quotas worldwide can be found in countries east of Europe. The numbers in DPR Korea, China, India, Kuwait, Macau, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates range from 18 to 33 per cent. Iceland follows in eighth place as the first “Western” country with 17 per cent, Canada in 13th place with 14 per cent – the highest percentage among top hockey nations.



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