MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania – The Romanian women’s national team played in IIHF competitions from 2003 and 2011 before women’s hockey in the country fell into decline and the team disappeared. Its last captain, Kinga Koncsag, now works on rebuilding and rejuvenating Romanian women’s hockey as a coach and behind the scenes.
During the last few years the number of women’s teams fell from four to two and the number of registered female players from 74 to a minimum of 38. Now a coach at HSC Csikszereda in the city that is known as Miercurea Ciuc in Romanian or as Csikszereda by the region’s Hungarian-speaking majority, Koncsag wants to improve the situation at home and motivate women’s hockey enthusiasts elsewhere in the country that is ranked 27th worldwide on the men’s side.
Three months ago Koncsag took part in the administrators’ program at the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp to launch a national U16 tournament with girls who usually play with boys teams and apply for IIHF co-funding. In a few days she will also coach the HSC Csikszereda women’s team in the European Women’s Champions Cup event in Turkey, the only international event for Romanian women’s hockey at the moment.
Right now there are only two clubs with women’s teams in the country, HSC Csikszereda and Triumf Bucharest but there will be a new one in Brasov, which together with Miercurea Ciuc held the two first-ever World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Romania on Sunday.
Last season Csikszereda won the championship against Triumf and Csikszereda II in a championship that was played with just six games in two tournaments in April. That’s not enough teams and game practice to have a national team. But there’s hope the level of women’s hockey will be back at where it once was, and even above in the future.
“It was a busy but a really good day. We have 36 female players in the club and we had 55 girls at the event,” Koncsag said of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in her city.
The participants were split into four groups with beginners and girls who already play hockey. They started skating and had drills at nine stations with ten minutes for each group. And they played hockey.
“I was so happy to have so many girls there. I think it’s a good number. I made a short presentation about hockey equipment for the girls who were there for the first time and after the event we had snacks, tea and took pictures, we gave information about female ice hockey and talked about how they can join our club,” she said and hopes that ten new players between the age of 10 and 12 years will join the club.
After retiring as a player she now puts her effort into hockey behind the ice to help shape a more promising future for women’s hockey and the work starts at home. She hopes to have not only the senior women’s team in her club but to have enough young players to form U12 and U14 girls’ teams as well.
“Currently we have players from 9 to 39 years of age in one team and the younger girls also play with boys’ teams until the U16 category,” she explained.
At the same time ASC Corona 2010 Brasov operated another World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event with 30 girls and women between the age of 6 and 40. Not bad for a club that haven’t had a team in the women’s championship before.
“Everyone had fun and would like to repeat the experience as soon as possible,” said Zoltan Olti-Pasca, President of the club’s ice hockey department.
Also here the players were split into four groups to try hockey at different skills stations on the ice.
“It was a thrilling experience that they would like to repeat more often. In Brasov more and more people come to see hockey games and we hope that this event raised awareness amongst the female population of our city,” Olti-Pasca said.
Koncsag hopes that the ambitions she has will also work out at the national level. She hopes that with the number of young girls playing hockey going up in Romania not only the women’s national team program will be relaunched but that also an U18 women’s national team can be formed.
“And I hope next year we can go to the Women’s World Championship and that more clubs will have women’s teams,” she said.
for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend tracker with events from all over the world.