MACAU – Macau is a fledgling ice hockey country with a small population. That makes it difficult to climb up the ranks in international competition. But it is making an effort to improve its status and this was reflected in the encouraging turnout for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
A total of 25 girls tested themselves on the ice for the first time in Macau, one of two Special Administrative Regions of China along with Hong Kong, which also hosted an event.
The number included four parents who joined their daughters on the ice.
“They really enjoyed it,” the general secretary of the Macau Ice Hockey Federation, John Ng said.
The ages of the single girls ranged from 10 to 27 but the four parents were novices in their thirties.
“It’s the most successful day we have had for this event in the last three years,” Ng said. “The parents who took part enjoyed trying the game with their kids.
“It was a good day and it will help us to promote ice hockey in our region. The girls enjoyed the day and after they had tested themselves on the ice we invited them to join the Macau ice hockey program. Some of the girls said they would like to join our youth training program.”
The Macau federation intends to implement the International Ice Hockey Federation’s coaching program to develop the game.
“We have an ice hockey development program in place for youth from October to May every year,” Ng explained.
“We want to learn more about coaching and how to train for the game to help new players develop their hockey.”
Macau also plans to follow the IIHF program that is being used to develop the elite players.
The day was important for ice hockey in Macau because it was an opportunity to promote the sport to the population and an IIHF representative travelled from Hong Kong to Macau for this special day.
Macau only has a small population of 587,914 people and only 144 of them play ice hockey.
There are 48 senior male players, 71 juniors and 25 women.
There is only one indoor ice rink in the country at the Future Bright Amusement Park but the Macau federation plans to build an international size ice hockey arena in the next few years.
“We are trying to promote the game of ice hockey to females in our region,” Ng said.
“The main benefit for us is that it is promoting the sport to girls in our country. I hope it brings more players to the sport.”
The girls who continue will join with the boys in the youth competitions in Macau. And next year there will be a tournament for girls in Thailand and Macau will take part.
“We want to provide some opportunities for the girls and have a tournament to help them learn some more about the game,” Ng said.
Macau is a fledging county in the sport and only joined the IIHF in 2005.
It played its first international ice hockey match in 2003 when it was beaten by Hong Kong 30-1. The standard improved after that and that game remained as the biggest loss suffered by the national team.
The playing standard has risen steadily in the last 11 years and the Macau men’s team gained its biggest international win in February this year when it beat India 14-0.
Macau’s international standard is improving but it has lost 28 of its internationals, drawn three and only won three.
Macau played in the Asian Winter Games once in 2007 when it finished eleventh. It has competed in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia six times since 2008 with its best performance being in 2011 when it finished fifth. Earlier this year Macau won the Division I event in Kyrgyzstan to return to the top level of the competition.
for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend tracker with events from all over the world.