METEPEC, Mexico – In its third year, the Mexican women’s program wants to take the next step. While the national team prepares for its international debut, young girls are being recruited to help spread the sport.
Female hockey started in the country with the launch of the women’s hockey league in 2011 with four teams and players mainly from the area of Mexico City.
With a weekend of female ice hockey the league kicked off its third season at the ice rink of Metepec about 60 kilometres west of Mexico City.
“The league has now five teams from four states,” said Claudia Téllez. The teams are called Agaves, Bandidas, Osos, Stars and Tigres and come from Mexico City, the State of Mexico, León and Jalisco.
“We have more players and from all around the country. We are very happy with the evolution of women’s hockey both in quantity and quality,” she added.
Téllez is a player and also works as an Operations Manager for the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation.
Not only the five clubs assembled for the first games but also the women’s national team and the U16 selection. That’s where most of the new players were recruited.
“The U16 national selection is totally new,” explained Téllez. “They started training for the first time and will go to the Female Hockey Festival in Calgary next month.”
“I’ve never seen so many little girls playing hockey in Mexico. That’s nice and means hockey is growing.”
“There are more girls in inline hockey but these teams are now coming to ice hockey because they like it more.”
Many of the female players came from inline hockey including Téllez and her roommate Bertha Gonzalez, also a player.
Both were part on and off the ice for the season opener with many veteran and new players of various age groups.
“We were playing almost all morning and all night and were exhausted in the end,” said Gonzalez, who also supports the women’s program as a nutritionist.
Both Gonzalez and Téllez moved to the Mexico City region after having switched from inline to ice skates.
“Some of us are not from Mexico City. We are now living together here with the help of the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation. We come from different regions where there are no ice rinks and want to become better by training all year,” Gonzalez said. “I like ice hockey a lot. It’s different from inline hockey but also more expensive because there are not many ice rinks in Mexico and we need the support of the federation to train.”
The Mexican women’s national team played its first exhibition games in February 2012 when an Argentine delegation with a men’s and a women’s team came to Mexico. In Cuautitlán the Mexican women’s national team lost its first-ever game against Argentina 1-0 but avenged for the loss with a 7-1 victory in the second game.
Mexico will start in the lowest tier of the Women’s World Championship and host the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification in Mexico City. South Africa, Bulgaria and Hong Kong – another new team in the program – will be the opponents.
“We’re excited and we’re training hard,” Gonzalez said about the start of the season. “We want to train hard, keep it going and win.”
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