During the 2019 World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend we follow what's happening in the 42 countries that take part in the weekend-long campaign to bring more women and girls into ice hockey and try out the coolest sport on earth. This story will be updated constantly for several days. In total 526 events with tens of thousands of participants were organized on all continents!
Click here for a full list with all events. For more action, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use the hashtag #WGIHW when posting about the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend. Organizers can send the Reporting Form and photos to [email protected] as soon as the event is over.
Click here or scroll down for the photo gallery.
Click here for a full list with all events. For more action, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use the hashtag #WGIHW when posting about the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend. Organizers can send the Reporting Form and photos to [email protected] as soon as the event is over.
Click here or scroll down for the photo gallery.
Finland: RaumaMany girls’ days took place in Finland during the weekend. In the very west Lukka Rauma welcomed 20 girls in the age group 6-12 at Tuki-areena one day later on Monday evening where they had an hour-long ice session to try out the Finns’ favourite sport.
“Many parents thanked us for the arrangement and program. The girls were happy,” said Sami Pillikangas. “It is good that this is world-wide happening, it is good publicity about girls’ hockey.”
Australia: MelbourneSeveral states in Australia hosted World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events. The one by Ice Hockey Victoria was held at the O’Brien Icehouse in the Melbourne region with 44 female participants from 6 to 40 years of age.
Since the first time the numbers have gone up. Mothers and fathers brought their daughters, older sisters and brothers brought their younger sisters and players brought their friends to try the sport they love.
They were coached by no one else than Georgia Moore, captain of the Australian women’s national team, while others from the local clubs and league helped as volunteers.
“It’s the favourite event of the year for our women ice hockey players,” said Julie Cantrill, women’s director at Ice Hockey Victoria. “They love to be able to share their passion for the sport with others by volunteering at the event. All the participants and volunteers had a lot of fun during the ice session which was well planned and delivered by our coaching team led by Georgia Moore. Many participants said they would love to start learning to play ice hockey so we provided them with information about how to get started. The junior girls’ parents thought it was a fantastic experience for their daughters and asked when the next event was on while the spectators were amazed at how much fun the participants were having on the ice.”
“Each year increasingly more girls and women attend our IIHF Come and Try in Melbourne and experience the comradery and wonderful sense of community that we have and often decide to take up the sport. The benefits of playing ice hockey are enormous for the individuals as it improves their health and well-being while the community benefits by having positive, happy and engaged women in their families, as friends or as colleagues.”
Serbia: Novi SadSerbia hosted its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Novi Sad this year and spent totally two-and-a-half hours on the ice for two sessions in three levels. In total 56 girls participated including four goaltenders and seven coaches were there to help the girls.
Korea: SeoulThe Korea Ice Hockey Association hosted a festival for women’s hockey at the Taereung rink in Seoul as participants of the Division I and II of Korea came to the rink, 75 players in total.
“I am a mother of Juwon Park, team Swans. It is a good chance for my daughter to play hockey with only girls. I wish to have this opportunity more,” said one of the parents watching the event.
“My older Brother is a hockey player so it probably inspired me to play hockey. I am really happy to play hockey in World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend,” said U18 women’s national team player Sojung Lee.
“Actually I was an inline stake player but my friend played hockey. It looked really cool and fun so I started ice hockey. We have not had many opportunities to play hockey with only girls. So it was really a great time,” said Nara Kang of Team Ice Beat.
“It was a great time to collect only girls and offer them an opportunity to play with only girls. Mostly, they did not have enough opportunity to play hockey with only women because there are a small number of female hockey players in Korea,” said Seokcheol Yoon of the Korea Ice Hockey Association about the annual event. “It was not only a female hockey event but also we tried to find potential female players for the national team. Overall, it was great and we found some valuable players for the future.”
South Africa: DurbanThe KwaZulu-Natal Ice Hockey Association (KZNIHA) once again participated in this annual event. Although a small province with the fewest number of members in South Africa, the event attracted 14 girls between the ages of 7 years and 24 years old.
The coaches and on-ice helpers proudly donned pink bibs and pink tutus which brought in a different fun element for promoting girls ice hockey.
After registration and once on the ice, the girls were invited to introduce themselves before being split into groups dependent upon their ranging skills levels. The girls took part in various games such as tic-tac-toe as well as drills for the more advanced. The event concluded with an informal scrimmage which the girls participated in with much gusto. The girls were very pleased to receive participation certificates and bookmarks to add to the printed shirts and buffs already provided to each participant upon registration.
Grateful thanks to all the off-ice and on-ice helpers as well as the coaches who ran the drills and fun events on the ice.
Although small, the event was a huge success and the girls (and parents alike) had a lot of fun with most being committed to returning. Subsequent new queries at the conclusion of the event yielded more interest from non-participants and it is hoped that more girls would be drawn to playing ice hockey.
USA: NewarkThe New Jersey Devils were also part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend this year and made full use of it in Newark.
On Friday 20 girls from the Learn to Play Program were invited to be a part of the Devils Red Carpet Arrival and Opening Night Ceremony. Each girl was paired with one of the NHL players and together they walked the Red Carpet interacting with Devils fans prior to the game vs Winnipeg. Following the Red Carpet Arrival, the girls then joined the Devils at center ice as the team was introduced to a sold-out Prudential Center crowd.
“Wow, still can’t get over Friday night. All weekend, that’s all she talked about. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity and giving Maya a once in a lifetime chance to do something like that!” said the parent of one girl.
On Sunday over 60 girls between the ages of 5-12 participated in an station based on-ice clinic at the RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey featuring special guests Nikki Zajac (University of New Hampshire Women’s Ice Hockey Alum & wife of Devils forward Travis Zajac), United States Olympian Shelly Picard, New Jersey Devils Alumni Bruce Driver & Grant Marshall), New Jersey Devils mascot NJ DEVIL along with local girls high school ice hockey coaches.
The one-hour clinic consisted of six stations including gameplay, soccer/handball, freeze tag, the box drill, relay races, and stickhandling/keep away.
“The clinic today was great and the entire experience on Friday was something Hayden will remember for a long time. She had a great time and hasn’t stopped talking about it. We really appreciate you including her!” said one of the parents.
For one family it was in particular special. Devils forward Travis Zajac met his own daughter Veronika on centre ice before the game on Friday. Veronika, 5, just started skating and was also part of the clinic on Sunday as was her mother Nikki.
Australia: QueenslandIce Hockey Queensland organized two events for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Brisbane and Townsville this year.
Brisbane had 30 participants ranging from 6 to 50 years of age. There were 9 coaches involved in running the session. Townsville had 11 participants and many of those interested in joining the club.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is a fantastic event each year and is very popular amongst our junior female players. All of the participants and volunteers had a lot of fun during the ice session, which was well planned and delivered by our coaching team led by Goannas Ice Hockey Team Head Coach, Darryl Dunsford,” said women’s director Sarah Kinninment.
“Many junior participants said they would love to start learning to play ice hockey so we provided them with information about how to get started. Many hockey mums enjoyed participating on the ice and regular hockey players bought friends to try out the sport and support women in hockey. Everyone kept smiling, even the girls that kept falling over! They just got up and kept going.
“In Queensland in recent years, women’s ice hockey has been increasing in numbers and it is due to the commitment of volunteers, players and events such as World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, which bring awareness to the sport and grows our female numbers each year. There was real excitement about being able to try out ice hockey in a safe and friendly environment; many young girls were very excited to try this sport. There are many benefits to individuals playing ice hockey as it improves health and well-being.”
The events help create awareness about women’s ice hockey and for the sport in general as in Townsville many people still don’t know that there’s an ice rink in town, or ice hockey.
France: AngletThe hockey club Anglet Hormadi in the south-west Atlantic coast of France welcomed 35 participants from 4 to 47 years of age at the La Barre ice rink for their girls’ day.
After the reception and getting equipped, they had first three stations during one hour on the ice as they were split into three different groups depending on their abilities. During a second session they had the chance to play 3-on-3 cross-ice hockey. They got the help by players from the clubs including two national team players who showed their medals from IIHF competitions to inspire new players.
The day at the rink ended with snacks at the club house and discussions about the event and the club in order to encourage new members.
“All participants were delighted after the event. It was a resounding success with very positive feedback from the participants, their parents and trainers,” said board member Emmanuelle Gouranton. The event helps bring women in ice hockey closer together.
South Africa: Port ElizabethThe Eastern Province Ice Hockey Association hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Port Elizabeth. It was one of two events in South Africa during the weekend.
41 participants between 4 and 46 years of came to the ice rink at Baywest Mall. After getting some goodies and having a fun warm-up outside at the parking lot, it was time to go downstairs to get fitted for the ice session where they were divided into groups depending on their abilities. They performed various hockey drills and had 4-on-4 cross-ice games to showcase their newly learned skills.
Later the participants were able to watch an exhibition game by the registered players. The youngest participants in that game was 7-year-old Rae Plakonouris, who shows promise as a player and had her first full game.
“We have had very positive responses from participants and parents about the day with a number of girls indicating that they would like to start playing ice hockey,” said Jacqui van der Merwe, representative of Women in Sport.
Italy: BolzanoThe Eagles South Tyrol organized the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Bolzano for the first time with the theme "Play like a girl".
19 girls between the ages of 5 and 13 from South Tyrol and the neighbouring province of Trento followed the invitation. After watching a game of the women’s league and a lunch with the local players, the junior players became active themselves under the guidance of eight players of the Eagles women’s hockey team, many of them national team players.
The activities started with an off-ice training session including some fun skill games. Afterwards the girls moved onto the ice of the arena Palaonda, which hosted the men’s 1994 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The Italian association for the fight against cancer (LILT), whose actions are supported by the Eagles as a testimonials in the breast cancer awareness month October, provided each participant a bag with T-shirt, drinking bottle and other gadgets.
“The best we all can do for women’s hockey is to create opportunities to talk about. The Eagles team is the all-time Italian league champion and two times EWHL winner. This means that our organization is already well known in Italy for being a forerunner in women’s ice hockey but the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was a great opportunity to boost our fame and to show how many girls are passionate about the best team sport in the world,” said club president Manfred Klotz.
Some of the girls will now be invited to practices of the women’s team and the parents were that happy that there’s demand for more such sessions throughout the season.
Poland: KatowicePoland’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event has again been hosted by women’s hockey team Kojotki in Katowice. The club has girls’ teams that compete in boys’ leagues of various ages and in the Polish women’s hockey league.
About 80 participants, girls and adult women, showed up for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
“The youngest members of our club came with a friend to show them their new hobby. All the girls had possibility to put on the hockey gear and try themselves on the ice,” said Anna Rehlich, chairwoman of the club.
On Saturday the U10 and U12 teams had practice before supporting the senior team in their game against Cracovia Krakow. Sunday morning was an open training session for the newcomers.
For the club and the community it’s special to have such events and even more with the international touch during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
Since the club’s founding in 2015 it has been growing. “Girls’ hockey has become more popular and now around 80 girls play here. The girls, parents, families and friends are very proud of being part of sports history,” Rehlich said. “We still hope that such events and our hard work convince other clubs to focus on girls’ hockey - it’s worth it.”
Two chairmen of men’s clubs came to visit the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend to see with their own eyes how many girls play ice hockey in Katowice to learn about starting a girls’ team themselves.
Switzerland: NeuchatelA dozen of newcomers joined the women’s hockey club Neuchatel Hockey Academy to try ice hockey on Sunday in the city in western Switzerland. The participants between 7 and 40 years of age were introduced by the sport by technical director Yan Gigon and experienced players of the club as well as from men’s team Universite Neuchatel.
The two-hour ice session offered time to work on skating, passing, shooting and small games to show all aspects of ice hockey. Afterwards the participants learned about women’s ice hockey in the city and country and had some small snacks after working on the ice.
“Everybody had a great time and parents where very happy to see the smiling faces of their kids. The club members were happy to show their sport and share their passion with young girls,” said club president Laure Aeschimann. “Thanks to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend our academy received a lot of support from media in our region – TV, radio and a newspaper – and that means a lot to us. Talking more about women’s hockey is so important to promote it and to tell people that ice hockey is a great sport, also for girls!”
Two Swiss cycling champions, Camille Balanche and Emilie Siegenthaler, came to the ice as well to show the first sport they loved. Balanche played hockey in Neuchatel and one Women’s World Championship as an 18-year-old in 2008 and won gold in the downhill race of the 2019 European Mountain Bike Championships, Siegenthaler was third at the 2017 UCI DH World Cup.
Finland: VantaaThe two local clubs Etela-Vantaan Urheilijat and Kiekko-Vantaa hosted a Girls’ Hockey Day in Vantaa in the Helsinki region together with Ringette Walapais. There were 14 participant age between 5 and 15. They learned the basics on the ice and later played the sports of ice hockey and ringette.
“All the girls were very excited and happy about the event. Three of the four beginners wanted to join clubs so the parents were also happy about the event,” said Villa Suojarvi of Kiekko-Vantaa.
“It’s a good event to marketing girls’ hockey and it’s always good if the clubs get new members. Let’s hope there are even more new girls in the future events.”
Lithuania: ElektrenaiElektrenai, the small city that brought up Lithuanian hockey legends Darius Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus, was the host of Lithuania’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
30 participants were on the ice including 20 new girls. The youngest was just one year old, the oldest participant 50.
After getting the skates, helmets and sticks, the participants had an hour-long ice session. About half focused on skating as it was their first time on the ice while the others played some fun game and were introduced to puck handling. At the end everyone got a puck and a T-shirt saying “Aš myliu ledo ritulį” – I love ice hockey!
“The participants were very happy. Some moms went on the ice with their daughters and liked it so much,” said Egle Zemlickiene, women’s hockey manager at Hockey Lietuva. “In general it’s a good event for developing and making women’s hockey more popular,” she added and hopes that some of the girls will join the practices of the local women’s hockey team.
Estonia: TallinnEstonia has relaunched women’s hockey in the recent years also thanks to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. Meanwhile the country has a five-team women’s hockey league won by HC Everest from Kohtla-Jarve and hopes with continued growth the country can return to the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program in a year.
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend this year was hosted in all four cities. For our featured story we had a chat with Veronika Tiganik of HC Grizzlyz, the organizer in Tallinn. Click here for the full story.
Indonesia: Kota TangerangAlso Indonesia was back at the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. At the Bintaro Xchange Ice Skating Rink (BX Rink) in a mall in Kota Tangerang outside of the capital of Jakarta girls and women had the chance to try out the sport in an event organized by the Indonesian Ice Hockey Federation on Sunday morning.
Belarus: MinskBelarus aims at bringing women’s hockey back. On Saturday young women had the chance to go behind the scenes of KHL club Dynamo Minsk and get a coaching session with two players of the team. On Sunday female junior players from different club played an exhibition game during the intermission in front of a big audience. Read more about the events in Minsk here.
World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Minsk
Belarusian KHL club Dynamo Minsk offered a practice and tour behind the scenes to female participants during the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend.
Mexico: Mexico CityLast month, for the first time ever, two women flew planes in Mexico City’s Independence Day military parade. This weekend, the capital city saw girls learning how to fly on the ice and shoot hockey pucks.
The Ice Station Buenavista hosted World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend on Saturday night. Altogether, there were about 60 participants, counting both girls aged mostly 6-17 and players from the U18 Mexican women’s national team.
Mexico may have finished seventh at the U18 Division I Group B qualification tournament in Jaca, Spain in January, but these girls were in the proverbial seventh heaven.
“The reactions of the participants were positive, everyone had a good time and a lot of parents were interested, after the event, about enrolling their daughters in ice hockey lessons,” said Bertha Gonzalez from the Mexican Ice Hockey Federation. “All the people that helped out with the event were very energetic and happy to transmit their love of the sport.”
The girls received nametags from the organizers and got help suiting up. They spent an hour on the ice with five fun drills to learn the basics of hockey.
“It’s about getting more girls into ice hockey, and especially in Mexico, ending the perception of hockey as a boys’ sport,” Gonzalez said. “We need to show the girls and their parents that girls also can play. It also helped the coaches and established players participating to share their passion for the sport and get some knowledge about recruiting new players. Beyond this one weekend, we must continue helping the girls’ game to grow.”
USA: Farmington HillsThe HoneyBaked Hockey Club hosted on Sunday its fourth annual Girls’ Hockey Party as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
The day included nine games from the Tier I girls’ teams to the Tier 3 girls, as well as a Girls Try Hockey for Free event. But the afternoon was much more about camaraderie and celebrating the fun in the game with activities like a “Pie in the Face Challenge” where girls could donate $1.00 per toss of a whipped cream pie at their coach to raise money for “Team Noggin”, a charity formed by one of the HoneyBaked families in support of the American Brain Tumor Association. There was also an “Icing the Puck” station where girls had some delicious fun decorating cookies to look like pucks, a game room for Plinko, Tic-Tac-Toe, Jack Stack Challenge, and Flipper – and a poster contest celebrating why these girls love the game of hockey so much.
Kuwait: Kuwait CityThe Kuwait Winter Games Club hosted an event for girls in Kuwait City. After a presentation the participants were ready for fun on the ice.
“Mostly we were ready for fun, joy and we try to let participants to enjoy our event us much us could. All the parents and participants they were happy and they enjoyed the event,” said Mariam AlKhars from the club. “We hope all girls will join our club to enjoy and play.”
Beside the fun on the ice there were also local-flavoured snacks and a big cake with a World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend ready that you can find in this video touring through the event:
World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Kuwait
The Kuwait Winter Games Club hosted an event of the 2019 World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend and invites you to have a look in this video.
Latvia: RigaNot one, not two but even three events took place in the Latvian capital of Riga. On Sunday afternoon the ice rink at the Akropole mall played host again, this time organized by Team L&L with 40 female participants between 5 and 42 years of age.
It was an hour-long ice session with different attractions for beginners and more experienced participants.
“The girls were excited, to many of them this was a dream come true. Both the parents and the participants was really pleased as there were a lot of individual approach and the exercises were fun. 10 of the girls who took part in this event had joined the team during last year’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, so they shared their experience and were extremely helpful and supportive,” said GM Lasma Saulite.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for girls of all ages to finally make the step and try out something new. For teenage girls this is one of the best ways to take part in healthy and meaningful activities and it is a possibility to build their lives around something they love. Being passionate about sports helps to build stamina and create strong and supportive personalities.”
The event was also a family affair. There were hockey mums including head coach Inguna with her daughter Elizabeth but also three pairs of sisters: Megija and Emilija, Madara and Olivija, and Madara and Marta.
“Having so much interest from the girls makes us believe that all the energy and time spent on developing the women’s hockey in such a small country as Latvia has huge impact on community. We are ready to set even higher goals to achieve and continue to work as hard as we can. In moments like these you really see and value the joy that you can bring into someone’s life,” Saulite said.
Slovakia: Liptovsky HradokThe new ice rink of Liptovsky Hradok hosted Slovakia’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with 18 female participants, the youngest two-and-a-half years old, the oldest 45.
The girls got to know the ice with fun games with coloured balls and foam tools and in the end played a game before getting a diploma and gifts.
“It was the first time on the ice for some of the girls. They have learned a lot of new skills and techniques. Their parents were so happy, glad and proud of them,” said coach Martina Staronova.
The community hopes to earn funding and sponsorship to have events like this one on Sunday more often at the rink.
Norway: SkedsmoSkedsmo ishall was the venue for another World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Norway. 20 to 25 girls and teenagers from 5 to 16-year-olds were on the ice in the town in the southeast of the country.
They were informed about the hockey school and that there are practices for girls only at Skedsmo Ishockey klubb.
Coaches and helpers were on-site in the dressing room when it was time to get on the equipment and go to the ice.
“Many say they will play hockey and will return on ice soon. There was a lot of laughter and smiles on the ice and it is a pleasure to see,” said Evy Karlsen, board member responsible for girls’ hockey at the club.
Finland: HelsinkiMany girls’ hockey days took place across Finland including the one hosted by IFK Helsinki in the capital city.
The event was open for all female players and included 53 participants from 4 to 51 years of age who came to the Helsinki Ice Hall on Sunday morning.
The first 15 minutes on the ice were spent on individual skating and puck handling before the participants were split into groups for three stations: puck handling & scoring, skating and games. This was followed by a Star Wars game on ice and the team photo.
“People were happy and satisfied of the event. We had skate sharpening so for some it was a big thing too. All participants got their own drinking bottles and pucks from the sponsor,” said Johanna Sandqvist, director of girls’ hockey at HIFK.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is part of our recruitment program that we do consistently, and it for sure has its place! For us organizers it is always a lot of work but at the same time it is also so much fun to see new faces and kids and adults enjoying the event so much. It takes a lot effort but the fun gives it back.”
Australia: BrisbaneSeveral women’s hockey clubs and regional branches across Australia run try-hockey events for girls. The one of the Brisbane Goannas took place as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in the city in Queensland.
Canada: FrederictonThe University of New Brunswick Reds women's hockey team returned to varsity action for the first time in more than a decade in 2018-19, and they volunteered en masse to help out during this year's World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Fredericton. What are the challenges and successes for women's hockey in this proud Atlantic Canada province? Read the full story here.
South Africa: Kempton ParkThe Gauteng Ice Hockey Association with the Sabres Ice Hockey Club and the Vipers Ice Hockey Club organized one of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in South Africa in the city of Kempton Park. There are 39 girls that participated from the age of 4 to 40 years old.
“The reaction of the participants was that skating is not as easy as it looks but they kept on trying until they could skate on their own. We had a large group of new girls who couldn’t skate or it was their first time coming to the ice rink. The parents were impressed with the skills of the organizing team and how welcoming the ice hockey community was,” said Patricia Mlangeni, who is with the South African Ice Hockey Federation and Woman In Sport South Africa.
“The impact on the community is that it sparked new interest and created a special memory to be forever cherished,” she added.
“On the organization we are learning innovative ways to promote the event and run the event. It’s getting popular every year and reaching more areas, diversity of players and younger participants. The motivation during the off-ice games was that younger participants competed better than the older ones due to curiosity and the willingness to explore new opportunities.”
Turkey: IstanbulOne of the largest World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in terms of participation took place in one of the largest cities. The Turkish Ice Hockey Federation welcomed about 150 participants at the Silivrikapi ice rink. They were between 2 and 45 years of age although most were girls between 5 and 10.
First the newcomers were able to follow an exhibition game before they were invited to the ice. The group of players under 8 played fun games while they older group worked on different hockey skills. Hockey certificates were in the end ready for all participants.
For many players and parents it was a surprise that so many young girls play ice hockey and many wanted to join an ice hockey program.
“Many of the people heard about girls’ hockey for the first time. Some stereotypes here in Istanbul include that it’s a very tough sport, not for girls. However, when they saw the game and the junior players they told that they were surprised,” said event organizer Merve Tunali, who coaches the Turkish women’s U18 national team. “Some also said ‘the hockey girls look normal’. So, for sure, we let them break some stereotypes about girls’ hockey, and make them meet with the sport of ice hockey and the real players.”
Click here for the featured story from Turkey.
Iceland: ReykjavikLaugardalur Ice Rink in the capital of Reykjavik hosted Iceland’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend organized by the two local clubs SR and Bjorninn with a record-breaking number: between 80 and 100 girls and women from 4 to 50 years of age were on the ice! Most of them tried ice hockey for the first time.
The newcomers were greeted by senior players and coaches and offered helmets, skates and other equipment. There was a skills course on one end of the rink and a game on the other end for the advanced skaters as well as a middle section to skate and have fun.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has been held before but never have we seen so many participants – especially new potential hockey players,” said Bjarni Helgason, board member of SR. “Women’s hockey has been on the rise in Reykjavik in the last one or two years after our club started a special program to get more girls into hockey. Now about 50 per cent of players age 12 and under are girls in our club.”
Switzerland: KlotenSwiss Arena in Kloten in the Zurich region was one of the venues for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend where former Swiss national team goalie Florence Schelling plays host annually.
30 participants came on Sunday morning in the age group 3 to 12.
After the official welcome they girls enjoyed a 90-minute session on the ice followed by an off-ice session and the opportunity for autographs and photos.
“They were having a blast. Besides getting a T-shirt and a snack bag, they this year got a hockey jersey for the first time. When they saw the jersey, their eyes were sparkling of joy. They enjoyed the ice session as well as the short off-ice session and are looking forward to the next event later this year or next year,” said Schelling and hopes that with events like these more girls will take on the sport in Switzerland.
The youngest participant came just before her 4th birthday tomorrow.
“She wanted to get dressed and undressed all by herself – and managed to do so! She was so outgoing and excited to be part of this event and on top of that she did really well on the ice. Such a great girl, she was the true star of this year’s Girls’ Hockey Day,” Schelling said.
RussiaRussia’s Women’s Hockey League took part in the global celebration in various cities with trainings for girls, master classes and friendly games during the weekend.
One event was listed further below. While the main team of Agidel Ufa was on a road trip, younger players like Polina Suyushkina, Xenia Tyurina and Valeria Samoilova and youth coach Artur Nadrgulov stayed in Ufa to share their skills with young girls and women in a master class.
SKSO Yekaterinburg also offered a master class with fun relays, races and outdoor games.
Dynamo St. Petersburg invited everybody to a morning training session before an exhibition game against amateur team “Pantery” that ended with an ice dance.
The WHL also presented the results of an annual photo shooting in Moscow where players are shown in a different light, this time with the topic of flowers of the season of the respective month of the WHL calendar.
Czech Republic: PribramIn Pribram in the Central Bohemian Region the Czech Ice Hockey Association organized the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. For the first time it was done with two events – Saturday focused on younger girls (6-12 years old), Sunday on teenagers from 12 to 16 with 97 participating girls in total.
The young girls were divided into teams which had short off-ice practice and then three units on the ice which lasted four hours in total. The first one focused on individual skills, the second was 3-on-3 hockey and the third fun games and competitions like shooting on targets, penalty shots, racing or skating with speed measurement.
The older girls had their practices more targeted on individual skills. Then they played a classic 5-on-5 game on the whole rink, red vs. white with 15 skaters and 2 goalies in both teams. All the girls then got some presents and diplomas.
“These events are very popular in our girls’ hockey community, girls and their parents usually want information about the next events. We have very positive reactions after each event,” said Martin Voltr, who covered the event for hokej.cz.
For many it was just the start of the season. More such events are planned for girls in November, December, and February. In April there will have be a tournament, in May some off-ice camp and in July a week-long hockey school.
“In our U16 national team we can see every year some girls who went through these events, which is very nice. They already know some key things and requirements that are necessary in the national teams, as the coaches from the national teams participate in these events,” noted Voltr. The girls also get to know each other better at an early stage.
The girls did not only get education from top women’s hockey coaches in the country. Karolina Erbanova, who won World Championship and Olympic medals as a speed skater, was working on the skating techniques of the girls. She played hockey herself and is now back in hockey coaching young players in her hometown of Vrchlabi.
Finland: KeravaIt was a busy weekend in Finland with 26 rinks hosting the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend including KJT Hockey in Kerava. 30 participants between the ages 4 and 14 years came to the rink.
After the registration and welcome speech the girls had an ice session of approximately 50 minutes before the group picture and getting the chance to take photos with the local senior team players.
For many girls it was an eye opener that so many girls play hockey in the town. “The event has already a quite steady place in the community. Many girls who play ice hockey now know about it,” said Oona Katariina Peltonen, junior head of coaching. For many of the girls it definitely won’t be the last time.
Germany: NurembergGermany had a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Nuremberg hosted by local youth hockey club EHC 80 Nurnberg with support from the German Ice Hockey Association.
The girls who came to Arena Nurnberg had the chance to discover ice hockey at different stations after getting the equipment: skating, shooting, games and a fun station. After the event the girls got a few giveaways plus flyer with more information about joining ice hockey.
USA: DetroitManon Rheaume, the pioneering Canadian national team goalie of the 1990's who played an NHL exhibition game, added a touch of star power to the Detroit Red Wings Girls Hockey Jamboree for WGIHW. She welcomed more than 50 girls to the Belfor Training Center at Little Caesars Arena. We talked to organizer Katelyn McLean about the experience. Read the full story here.
World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Detroit
The Detroit Red Wings organized a Girls' Jamboree as part of the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend including a famous instructor, Manon Rheaume, who once played an NHL exhibition game. Check out this video from the Red Wings!
Ireland: Belfast (UK)While the Irish Ice Hockey Association hopes to soon be able to play at an ice rink in the Republic of Ireland, they again headed north to Belfast for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with 26 participants at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl. The youngest participant was nine years old while the oldest were in their 30s.
After registering on Sunday morning they got their goodie bag from the Irish Ice Hockey Association including a “Skate Like a Girl” T-shirt and the chance to win something in a raffle. After getting changed it was time to hit the ice at noon. Fun warm-up games were followed by stations set up for stickhandling, shooting, mini games and obstacles courses.
“It was such a lovely atmosphere having mixed ages, abilities and some former national team players on the ice. It is the perfect environment for everybody on the ice to learn from one another and to see other females playing,” commented Sonya McEneaney, the Irish Ice Hockey Association’s Female Development Officer.
“The girls had such a great time. This was evident by all the smiles and laughter on the ice. Parents and spectators also commented on how well the event was run and were very happy that their daughter participated.”
The event helped highlighting that ice hockey is for everyone and to highlight the sport that is campaigning for a permanent ice rink in the Republic of Ireland.
Switzerland: ThunBomo Thun, a top-level women’s team in Switzerland, took for the first time part in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with 25 kids between the age of 5 and 10 on the ice at the Grabengut rink on Sunday morning.
Led by head coach Jakob Koelliker, a Swiss IIHF Hall of Fame member and long-time coach of Switzerland’s U20 national team who is now with the club, the participants went through four different stations focusing on basics, skating and stick work together with players from the club. A puck and hot drink were waiting for them after the ice session.
“All were happy, especially the kids. The parents enjoyed the involvement of the Bomo players. The town of Thun was very positive about the event,” Koelliker said.
Ukraine: KyivAlmost 70 children from the age of 6 to 12 years came to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend organized by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine in the capital of Kyiv.
The ice was split into six zones with three coaches and volunteers helping in each area. There was also a photo area, sweets for the kids and a lot of balloons in Ukraine’s yellow and blue colours as well as in pink.
“The children really liked the photo zone and sweets on ice. We also invited the mascot of the IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division 1 Group B, everyone liked these big birds,” said Maria Hromova, manager at the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine. “All visitors and participants were very pleased. We heard a lot of good comments and thanks from parents.”
Great Britain: Whitley BayWhat to do if you're a writer having to cover the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend and need to take care of your little daughter? Right, you take her to the rink and let her have fun. Click here for the adventures of Alicia & Andy Potts in Whitley Bay.
Belgium: HasseltHaskey Hasselt organized a Girls’ Only event on Saturday that was Belgium’s event for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with 35 girls and nine Learn to Play instructors. And that’s what it looked like on the picture:
Canada: VancouverIt’s been almost 10 years since Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics, where an 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice to lift Canada to a 2-0 win over the Americans in the gold medal game.
Women’s hockey is still flourishing in British Columbia's biggest city, as the Vancouver Female Ice Hockey Association’s event for World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend showed.
At the Killarney Rink, some 30 new skaters, aged four to 13, tried out the sport on Saturday morning. Thirteen of them were six years old or under. The girls got great support with 50 on-ice player helpers, 10 on-ice coaches, and 50 off-ice volunteers.
“They checked in at the rink lobby, where they were greeted by our volunteers,” said James Nedila, the association president. “After getting them signed in, the volunteers gave them each a swag bag full of free stuff, like jerseys, pucks, toques, and snacks.”
The girls got sized for equipment and volunteers helped them get dressed to hit the ice. The coaches briefed them on what would take place, and all the girls had an on-ice helper who stayed with them throughout the practice. Practice featured fun hockey drills ranging from Asteroids to Supergirl slides. Afterwards, Nedila thanked everyone for coming, and there was a Q&A session in the rink lobby.
“Lots of smiling faces out there!” said Nedila. And who knows? Maybe some future Olympic gold medalists too.
Japan: HachinoheThe Japan Ice Hockey Federation hosted its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Hachinohe in the Aomori Prefecture in the northeast of the main island Honshu. 70 female players were on the ice and helped by some Olympians and national team staff. Read our feature from Japan here.
South Africa: Port ElizabethIn South Africa the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend takes place in Port Elizabeth organized by the Eastern Province Ice Hockey Association.
Many girls and young women took the chance to try ice hockey and also some tasty snacks.
New Zealand: AucklandSports have brought Canada-born Rachel Park to New Zealand where she has become the head coach of the women’s national team. After organizing the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Auckland we had a chat with here about growing the game Down Under. Read the full story here.
Bulgaria: SofiaBulgarian women’s national team player Vanesa Georgieva organized an event in the capital of Sofia also this year and 42 female players came from local teams and the national team for a day dedicated to girls’ hockey. The participants were between 4 and 40 years of age.
“At the beginning we separated the girls in three groups according to their skills. We organized exercises for each group – skating, passing, shooting; and girls had so much fun on the ice,” Georgieva said after the session.
Later competitions were organized in each of the groups with hockey gear as prize. 10 beginners acquired full equipment as a gift from the Bulgarian Ice Hockey Federation.
“All of the participants – players, coaches, organizing committee and parents were very happy and thankful to the Bulgarian Federation for organizing this event, and for helping little girls to play ice hockey and enjoy the game,” Georgieva said. “The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is a great opportunity for Bulgarian girls who are active hockey players. We truly believe that ice hockey is suitable for girls. Ice hockey is for everyone.”
Norway: StavangerEvery year Stavanger, the fourth-most populous city of Norway, hosts a big event of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
This year the weekend coincided with the start of the hockey school that includes 271 boys and 88 girls at the age of 4 to 8. As the city is very international, the Stavanger Oilers’ recruitment officer Ernst Falch translated the posted to invite to the hockey school also to other languages such as Farsi, Russian and Tagalog to be as inclusive as possible.
After an opening meeting for the kids and parents in Norwegian and English language the kids put on their skates and helmet and worked on their balance on the rubber floor before a 50-minute ice session in different groups depending on the skill level.
“The kids loved it and the parents think it’s great,” Falch said but also knows that it needs more than an hour and one day to show the kids how much fun hockey is. “The event showed that hockey is for everybody. That every nationality find us interesting for the kids, we are a small United Nations.”
Malaysia: Johor BahruMalaysia has been hosting many World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in the capital region of Kuala Lumpur. This year it also went further and did one at the Blue Ice Skating Rink of the Paradigm Mall in the city of Johor Bahru with 10 participants in the age range of 10 to 16.
The participants spent the first 45 minutes on ice learning basic skating skills, guided by four coaches. After a short refreshment break, the participants took part in a brief game of ice soccer, which they enjoyed to get each other to know better. They concluded the remaining ice time by learning basic stickhandling skills. After leaving the ice each participant received a goodie bag with a mini stick and stickhandling ball.
“As Johor Bahru is not familiar with ice hockey, this event served as an introduction to the community. More events of the similar nature would help develop the sport at a new location,” said Ee Laine Chee, who helped organize the event.
“The girls enjoyed themselves, even though some were tired from moving so much on the ice. A parent commented that the girls looked like they were having a lot of fun on ice and wanted to know if such an event would take place again.”
Romania: BucharestWith the regular ice rink still being rebuilt, Triumf Bucharest welcomed 17 girls and women from the age of 7 to 21 at a small rink in a shopping mall.
After a social event it was time to hit the ice where players showed the younger girls the equipment, how to put it on followed by the jersey. After the ice session a brunch was ready and time to talk about ice hockey and the passion for it.
“We are the only girls’ club in the region and everyone knows that we want to evolve to be better every year, to be a stable hockey club and program. We have the youngest team in the championship and we want to use these events to make a point and an impact in sport,” said coach George Pogacean.
“The most important thing is that they had fun, 20-year-old with 6-year-olds laughing and having fun on the ice. Hockey brings smiles, and we are happy about that.”
Switzerland: KreuzlingenEleven young girls between the age of 4 and 10 came together on Saturday for a noon session of ice hockey. They learned about the possibilities with the club before they got the gear to give it a shot on the ice. It was about having fun and doing the first steps in skating and hockey.
“They were really happy and had fun. The parents liked this event,” said Andrea Kroeni, head of youth hockey at EHC Kreuzlingen-Konstanz. Check out the video below:
World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Kreuzlingen
EHC Kreuzlingen-Konstanz hosted one of the three Swiss events of the 2019 World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend.
Russia: UfaSeveral locations of Russia’s Women’s Hockey League take part in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. Here’s a video from Agidel Ufa and its master class.
World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in Ufa
Here's a video from the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend by Agidel Ufa in Russia.
Latvia: RigaThe women’s hockey club Lauvas was founded only last year and grew from 15 at the start to 35 players. At the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend they newcomers had the possibility to recruit more players as 17 of the 20 participants were new starting from the age of 3 to 35.
“It was amazing! All together we were around 40 people on ice. I even can’t remember when I saw so many girls on ice with one goal – have fun and be active!” said Mara Trezina, manager of the club.
The new players started with learning how to skate forward, backward and to stop and then went to eight stations with each having a player from the club to help. At the end they joined for a hockey game. “It was fun – you could see how excited they were. How happy, smiling and with good mood. It was just pure fun!” Trezina said.
At least eight of the girls will join the next practice of the club.
“I was so surprised that so many girls had interest in this event. In Latvia there are only around 200 girls playing ice hockey and these events let girls to know what ice hockey is and we break stereotypes about women’s ice hockey. Still there is a lot to do and we will continue doing it,” Trezina said.
Netherlands: Heerenveen126 participants and 16 coaches from different teams and 30 volunteers came together for the annual celebration of girls’ hockey by IJshockey Nederland in Heerenveen. The girls and women where between 9 and 45 years old. Four referees joined as well.
Eight teams were formed to play a tournament and among the participants were also 12 girls from Belgium and 10 from Cologne, Germany, who loved to join the event as well.
“After nine times we have seen that this helps women’s ice hockey grow and also the level. We got a big tombola with 900 prizes and a big dinner together. This year we slept had 70 girls who slept overnight in a big sport hall, we ate pizza together and everybody was sleeping at 00:30,” said event organizer Jenny Goessens.
“Everyone was enthusiastic about the weekend and a lot of people give compliments. The girls look forward to next year.” That is set to be a special event as it will be the tenth edition of the Dutch event and the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
The event shall also help raise awareness for girls’ hockey with the Netherlands hosting the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Eindhoven next January. “It’s a dream coming true from me and other people that we got in January the first IIHF Championship for women in the Netherlands, and we want to make it a great success so everybody will happy and hopefully this is not the last time,” Goessens said.
More pictures can be found on the Girls’ Only Hockey Nederland Facebook page.
Turkey: IzmitThe first of our World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Turkey took place in Izmit with 24 participants who were hosted by Kocaeli GHSK.
After meeting the new friends the girls played with some tennis balls before getting a Learn to Play session.
“The parents were happy to see how their girls were trying hockey. We were proud to meet the new ice girls, to see many new girls on ice makes us happy and supports us to do more about hockey in Izmit,” said head coach Eray Atali.
Latvia: RigaFor hockey girls the weekend began already on Friday where ten girls and young women between the age of 5 and 15 came to the Akropole ice rink in the middle of the shopping mall with curious spectators walking by. There was an hour-long training with the elements of the game for more experienced players and skating lessons for the beginners.
“Having an open training in public place definitely attracted many people and raises the popularity of the women’s ice hockey. In Latvia the system for girls playing hockey from a young age is still at a very early stage. We as a club gained some new players today as well as broke some stereotypes in general,” said Lasma Saulite, GM of the Ice Academy.
Three beginners registered to join the training while for six players who are not first-timers it was some practice before their first official hockey game tomorrow.
Switzerland: variousSwitzerland is among the top-ranked countries in women’s hockey, currently in fifth place in the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Ranking. However, when it comes to the size of the player pool, the Swiss are further behind and can’t keep up with the top nations.
Recruitment of female players has been a struggle in Switzerland and initiatives like the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend haven’t been used as much as in other countries. Former world-class goalie Florence Schelling wants to change this and does not only host an event this weekend but plans a series of girls’ days across Switzerland. We had a chat with her before the event in Kloten as well as with the organizers in Kreuzlingen and Neuchatel to start the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend coverage. Click here for the full story.
2019 World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend