On the weekend of 6 and 7 March the first cross-border women’s hockey games between club teams took place in Novi Sad in the north of Serbia. The Serbian home team beat HK Lavice 13-0 and 9-0. But more important than the results was that these games happened. Despite the pandemic. And despite the complex history of this region.
Ice hockey for women is a young sport in these countries and started to grow only a few years ago. Also thanks to recruiting initiatives such as the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend as well as coaches dedicated to grow opportunities for women’s hockey, more young girls have found the love for ice hockey during the last decade and a first generation of young women playing ice hockey has grown in these two countries.
These two friendly games were a first step as the two countries work on their first exhibition games with official national teams by convening the best players from their countries including some who play abroad. The hope is to also get the Bulgarian women’s national team on board for a tournament next month in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.
According to the most recent survey numbers, the number of women and girls playing ice hockey has risen to 75 in Serbia and to 36 in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
From the former Yugoslav countries, Slovenia and Croatia have already been participating in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program for several years. Ice hockey is also played in North Macedonia with currently 11 female players in the system.