Girls’ hockey grows in Beijing
by Martin Merk|29 OCT 2021
Chinese players pose for a photo during the 2021 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend
photo: Beijing Hockey Association
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was celebrated in over 30 countries and for the first time the campaign was also staged in the world’s most populous country, China.

With the anticipation high before the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in the city, the Beijing Hockey Association took care of China’s premiere and 122 young girls from 5 to 14 years of age joined at the Xinghongao Fushi Road ice rink. Many of them shared the moment by having family and friends in attendance.

A variety of activities were prepared to make it a memorable event for the girls with four coaches, four assistant coaches, two photographers and a medical team at the rink.

The ice sheet was split into three areas. The fun area included games such as pylon racing, ball picking and chair rally. In the second area four-on-four games with line changes after a minute were held while the third area was to learn hockey drills.
“In the first half of this event, I was with the little ones, the five-year-olds, playing with them and taking care of them like their big sister, and then all my teammates came, they are girls of my age, We had a lot of fun together. I really enjoyed this evening,” said Kou Chenfei, a member of the BHA girls’ under-14 team.

For her mother, who watched from the tribune, the event was like a big celebration for female players. “This time, Kou Chenfei acted not only as an ice hockey player, but also as an assistant and translator of the coach, leading a group of new generation baby hockey girls to play games on the ice,” she said.

Back in 2015 there were only 20 girls who played ice hockey in Beijing. Then the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group B (and again in 2019) was held in Beijing and the organization made use of the event to show girls the sport and their role models on the ice. And start the program “Beijing Ice Girls” in 2016 to bring female players together and create a bond between them. They became a team and played against boys in the Beijing Youth Ice Hockey League.

Like in many other places there are not enough girls who play hockey so they used to practise in mixed teams with boys. The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is also an opportunity to bring the different age groups together in a girls-only event.

“The event has a huge impact in Beijing’s ice hockey community. Ice hockey girls of all ages in Beijing actively participated in the event, and the event also received the strong support of ice hockey parents. They actively forwarded the notification of the event on social media platforms and released a huge amount of content on social media after the event as their contribution to promote women's ice hockey,” said He Xing, Deputy Secretary General of the Beijing Hockey Association.

“This is the first time for us to bring this event to our city. For our association, this event was a great opportunity to get more girls involved in the game of ice hockey. We are glad to see that girls had a good time, and their parents also loved such recreational activities.”
We want to send this message: Ice hockey is not just for boys, women’s ice hockey is as great and has its unique charm. We hope more girls can come and experience ice hockey making this sport a part of their lives.
He Xing
Beijing Hockey Association
With the 2022 Olympics coming to Beijing, China has big long-term ambitions in winter sports. Many new ice rinks have opened across the country and the number of players grown rapidly in particular in youth hockey.

It’s no different at the Beijing Hockey Association where the girls’ program has grown from 20 to 400 players in teams in the U6, U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18 age groups and the first gold medals in national championships.

“In the future, Beijing will continue to increase girls’ hockey participation to develop and deliver more talented female hockey players for the higher age group and to improve the overall level of adult women’s ice hockey in Beijing,” Xing said.

Traditionally played in the north of China in cities such as Harbin and Qiqihar where most national team players come from, ice hockey has become more popular in Beijing in recent years, which has also led to better results in national championships.
Fun games during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in China.
photo: Beijing Hockey Association
Recently Beijing welcomed the arrival of the Olympic torch and in less than 100 days the best female and male players will battle it out for Olympic gold. China will play for the third time in the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament. The country qualified for Nagano 1998 and Vancouver 2010 but this time they can play on home ice.

Xing can feel the vibe with many activities, conferences and test events.

“The entire society is welcoming the upcoming Olympic Winter Games. In fact, since the one-year countdown to the Winter Olympics, we could feel clearly the people’s expectations for the Winter Olympics and their enthusiasm for participating in winter sports. The media and all sectors of society have paid high attention to it, including ice hockey,” she said.

“During this period, we received many requests for content and interviews from local and national media. We as BHA are very happy to let more people know about ice hockey through the opportunity of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games to help ice hockey grow faster in Beijing and in China.”