Women’s Summit Connects 50 Countries
by Storie Serres|28 FEB 2023
It’s easy to only think of the top 10 countries when you think of women’s hockey; to think of repeat gold medalists and packed arenas. And while all looks perfect on the outside, the IIHF’s 2023 Women’s Ice Hockey Summit was a stark reminder of the work that still needs to be done bring women’s hockey to the forefront around the world.
For the first time in IIHF history, 101 delegates from 50 countries met in Budapest, Hungary to learn, connect and share in knowledge and experience around the women’s game. IIHF’s President Luc Tardif attended the Summit together with the Senior Vice-President Petr Briza to give support to the ongoing ice hockey initiative.

“We wanted to hold a Summit like the one in Budapest for a long time, and we finally got there,” said the IIHF President Tardif. “We also want to bring women's hockey to a higher, professional level and guide all national associations to invest in the women's program as well. In the past five years, we have seen an almost twenty percent increase in the number of registered female players. That is why we believe in the program.”
Presentations from Coaches, Olympians and General Managers proved that one country’s experiences are not singular; that women’s hockey around the world faces many of the same challenges. But with such an opportunity to come together, the path forward means greater collaboration and commitment in every country.
“I’m super happy about the whole summit. I think we had great people sitting in the room. Everybody seemed to be really active and curious. The biggest takeaway for us is that we all have the same problems, but on different levels, and that we can all work together to grow women’s hockey,” said Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer, IIHF Council Member.
Guest speakers such as Emma Terho and Sarah Murray shared their experiences from an Olympic and local level, and what it takes to bring a team (or teams) together. IOC Young Leader Sang Eun Lee took the audience into an in-depth look at Korea’s Dream League – the league she founded. For context, before the Dream League was created, there were no real opportunities for girls and women to play hockey in Korea. Now with just over a year until the 2024 Youth Olympic Games, this is changing.
“The women’s hockey summit was a first-time event that showed the importance of our community,” stated Ana Boghossian from Brazil.  “It will be a major turning point with how we deal with women’s hockey all over the world. Being together is so important for creating that synergy, and there’s nothing better than a lot of people in a room.”
While listening to speakers is one way of learning, one of the most impactful opportunities for delegates of the IIHF Women’s Summit was the breakout sessions. In these sessions, each country was assigned a group (named after the IIHF’s four pillars of Community, Respect, Integrity and Passion) and would work with this group for the full summit. The breakout groups were intended to encourage discussion, knowledge transfers and cooperation between countries who may only be meeting for the first time. The result? Actionable items to elevate women’s hockey on and off the ice.
In a room full of people from all different countries, for 48 hours there were no rivalries, only great hope for the future. In the words of the IIHF’s newest Women’s Committee member Eelaine Chee, “We are one big family. We want to share our experiences and resources to make this sport better.”
“After the events of this weekend, it makes it clear the importance for every country to have at least one person who is directly responsible for women’s hockey in their country if we want to continue to see the growth of the sport at every level,” concluded Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer, IIHF Council Member

The IIHF will launch Inspire The Next on 22 March – a campaign aimed to inspire women to get involved in hockey, on and off the ice. Follow the IIHF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube and use #InspireTheNext on social media to be join the campaign.