ZURICH – The IIHF published its annual Survey of Players as part of its Annual Report. The number of registered hockey players grew by 52,892 to 1,602,876 compared to last year, an increase of 3.4 per cent.
The growth was observed in all categories – men, women and junior players. It can be seen in bigger hockey countries like Canada, Sweden or the United States, but also in emerging hockey countries with smaller participation such as Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Mexico and South Africa.
Female participation in particular rose steeply in some countries following new IIHF initiatives to promote girls’ and women’s hockey worldwide. In Australia, Great Britain, Hungary, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Slovakia and in some smaller countries the number of registered female players grew by more than 20 per cent within a year.
More indoor arenas were also made available for ice hockey (plus 4.5%). The only decrease that could be observed was the number of male referees.
Over a five-year period the number of registered players has grown by 7.7 per cent with the highest rates showing in women’s hockey (plus 16.5%) and youth hockey (plus 13.8%).
From the top-25 countries, substantial five-year growth occurred in Belarus (plus 83.1%), Hungary (plus 64.0%), Poland (plus 23.1%), Austria (plus 15.4%), the United States (plus 13.4%) and Canada (plus 13.2%). Also most Asian countries saw a growing number of hockey players.
The country where hockey is most popular is, still, its motherland. 617,107 players are registered in Canada, which means that one out of 56 Canadians is a registered hockey player.
The popularity of playing the world’s fastest team sport is also high in Finland (1:93), the Czech Republic (1:107) and Sweden (1:130), but even in smaller countries outside the spotlight such as Iceland, with a ratio of 1:534, seventh-best, or Estonia (1:844, 13th).
Click here for the Survey of Players.