SYDNEY – After a successful 2012 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Australia, the 2013 edition saw a boost in attendance at rinks in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.
Thirty-eight girls ranging in age from six up to ladies in their 40s and 50s attended the second annual event at Sydney’s Liverpool Catholic Club ice rink, which is home to the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League team the Sydney Sirens.
There were 13 new players this year, with the ‘bring a friend’ initiative proving a success. Additionally, some of the ladies who have children playing junior hockey took to the ice to try their hand, and came away with a new-found appreciation for the skills their kids have!
“Participants were laughing, and the spirit of hockey and having fun was definitely there,” Ice Hockey New South Wales Women’s Co-ordinator Anthony Hall said.
Head coach Kaylee White, a former national womens’ team representative, led a group of coaching staff consisting of Sirens players as wells as local junior grade coaches.
On arrival, participants were kitted-up and split into groups, and the staff organised two hours of games, drills and activities, creating an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie.
“There were lots of smiling faces on the ice during the event,” said Hall.
“Parents and spectators were commenting about how much fun the girls were having, and how great it was to see events like this being held for them.”
A number of the girls who attended were figure skaters and they were keen to try their hand at something new.
“The weekend has raised awareness of hockey in the local area, in particular with female skaters at the venue,” added Hall.
“Those who attended were very excited to be part of a global event, which was also a chance to make new friends and meet their role models.”
Women’s hockey is on the rise in Australia. The four-team AWIHL has bolstered its numbers, while the New South Wales winter competition had more than 100 players across junior and senior levels.
Women’s director for Ice Hockey Australia, Rocky Padjen, is currently at a women’s prospect camp in Melbourne for the under-18 and senior teams. And he’s noticed a significant boost in the skill level of female players since the inception of the league, which has been helped by the addition of import skaters.
“There’s been a huge difference since the league began,” he said.
“People who come to watch can’t believe how competitive the league is and the high standard.
“Hockey is definitely gaining in interest.”
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