World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend returns
by Lucas AYKROYD|20 OCT 2023
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is back and will take place for the 12th time during the weekend of 20-22 October 2023!

Thousands of girls and women in 30 countries and six continents will participate in ice hockey events with many of them trying out ice hockey for the first time ever. Click here for a list of events.

It is a chance for girls and women of any age to come together to learn the basics of ice hockey, play our fantastic sport and just have fun together and make new friends in a team sport.

Events can be organized by national and regional ice hockey associations, leagues, club teams or any group that wants to come together to support the growth of women’s hockey and spreading the word.

Want to follow the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend? Find the tracker below that will be updated all weekend long. Make sure to follow @iihfhockey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates during the weekend and use the official hashtag #WGIHW. Organizers can submit the reporting form to be included in the tracker.

Norway: Oslo

Talk about a reason to celebrate! The Hasle-Loren club set its own new high for World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend participation with 60 girls aged four to 12. Former Hasle-Loren women’s hockey players served as coaches.

Rune Fjellvang, the club’s manager of girls’ hockey, described the event: “We met the girls at registration and helped them put on hockey equipment. They were divided up into groups, ranging from total beginners to girls who already play hockey. After 90 minutes on the ice, we finished up in the club’s VIP room where the girls and their parents were served juice and cakes. It was all very successful.”

Norway: Jar Idrettslag

Jar Idrettslag's World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend event truly had something for everyone.

There was an on-ice practice with four stations and a free play zone. A 20-minute "skating disco" followed with music and flashing lights. Finally, the 45 girls (ages three to 10) who came got to watch a women's Division I game. Waffles, cinnamon buns, and hot chocolate kept everybody warm and happy.

"One of the challenges that was brought to our attention is that girls are interested to start playing hockey but are afraid because the girls who have been playing from an earlier age are too good," said Quintin Bollue, Jar Idrettslag's sport director. "We are thinking of starting a learn-to-skate group at every girls' practice moving forward to help newcomers get started."

Estonia: Tartu

With 17 girls from the ages of four to 13 on hand, HK Sade’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event at Astri Arena was both educational and fun.

When the girls weren’t learning about skating, puckhandling, or passing, they were high-fiving the Swallow, the Estonian national team’s mascot.

Fun fact: the oldest person on the ice was a 73-year-old woman who has attended local men’s and women’s hockey games for more than 50 years and owns more than 30 fan shirts.

Norway: Jessheim

Northeast of Oslo, Ullensaker Flyers hosted about 30 Norwegian girls new to hockey for World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend. Ages ranged from six to 10. The session, which ran two and a half hours, covered stickhandling, skating, and game action.

“Now more people know that we exist,” said Eivind Nygaard Nes, the club’s director of girls’ hockey. “Some attendees didn’t even know prior to the event that we had a ice rink in town. Even more did not know that so many girls played ice hockey and that we have teams for girls of all ages.”

Norway: Kongsberg

Founded in 1899, the Kongsberg IK sports club forged its 20th-century reputation with Olympic gold medal-winning ski jumpers like Sigmund Ruud and Petter Hugsted. In 2023, girls are getting their opportunity to shine in ice hockey.

The more than 20 young girls who came out for World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at Kongsberghallen got suited up, learned how to warm up, and enjoyed fun skating activities before competing in a couple of hockey games. They got lemonade and cakes, and T-shirts and pucks were handed out.

“It’s great to show that Kongsberg can offer hockey training for girls!” said Karin Ro, who heads up the club’s U13 girls program. “We hope this event will raise the interest in hockey for girls in our town. Hopefully the newcomers were curious and will want to come to our practices in the future.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo

This dynamic two-day WGIHW event took place at the HK Vukovi Ice Rink. The six-game tournament was hosted by HSBiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and included the U18 national teams of Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. Some 90 girls, mostly born between 2005 and 2011, took part.

Anthony London, the head coach of the HSBiH women's program, described the exuberant vibe: “So many girls know each other from playing against each other over the years, attending camps together, sleeping at each other’s houses on hockey trips, and even playing on the same teams. Sometimes, at the end of games, the socializing and picture-taking actually put us behind schedule.  We couldn’t get the girls off the ice!”

Norway: Ski

Ski, in this instance, refers not to a sport but to a Norwegian town with 30,000-odd inhabitants. And with 40 participants aged three to 12, Ski IL Ishockey made a valuable contribution to the future of women’s hockey in this country with its WGIHW event.

The club’s U16 girls helped out with the on-ice training session, which lasted an hour and a half. Everyone enjoyed cinnamon rolls and gingerbread cookies afterwards.

Switzerland: Neuchatel

The Neuchatel Hockey Academy pulled off a double whammy for WGIHW. A four-team tournament for U12 girls (45 participants) was followed by an “ice hockey discovery for girls” event (six participants) at the Patinoires du Littoral facility.

“One mother told us that she has never seen her eight-year-old daughter, who plays U9 with boys, having so much fun playing ice hockey and taking so much responsibility on the ice!” said academy president Laure Aeschimann.

Norway: Gjovik

During the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, the Gjovik Olympic Cavern Hill hosted 16 men’s hockey games, highlighted by Canada’s 5-3 semi-final win over Finland. This unique facility carved out of rock also welcomed a lively 2023 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event with 20 girls.

The ice surface was divided up into three zones for the aspiring players, who spent nearly an hour and a half out there having fun as music played.

Indonesia: Tangerang Selatan

The Indonesia Ice Hockey Federation’s Catherine Goutama was excited to see WGIHW revived after a multi-year hiatus. Badax Ice Hockey Club helped to organize the event in Tangerang Selatan, a city of 1.3 million people.

“Our federation also collaborated with the nearby school of Pembangunan Jaya, inviting their students to visit BX Rink for the event,” Goutama said. “The girls arrived at 12:30. After suiting up, they got a 15-minute classroom introduction to ice hockey. Afterwards, the instructor sent the girls on the ice. They learned about skating and had the chance to play with sticks and pucks. A few games were played, creating a fun atmosphere. After a closing talk, the program ended at 14:30. A few girls showed interested in learning more about ice hockey.”

Norway: Stavanger

Norway’s third-largest city saw a total of 168 girls aged six to 13 flocking to a well-received two-day WGIHW event at the Stavanger Ishall. 

“We arranged games in the form of tournaments, starting at 10 am and ending at 4 pm,” said IHK Stavanger CEO Ruben Smith, a retired goalie who won seven Norwegian titles and was named to the 2010 Olympic team. “In between games, teams had the opportunity to spend time watching the other games and hanging out together in the arena.”

Brazil:  Sao Paolo

An everyone’s-welcome approach served the Brazilian Ice Sport Federation well with its three-day World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend extravaganza at the Arena Ice Brasil. Interestingly, more than half of the 54 participants were between the ages of 16 and 30.

Highlights included on-ice training tailored for different levels, a five-game tournament, seminars on nutrition and sports psychology, and a screening of 2004’s Miracle with popcorn.

Norway: Ringerike

In the eastern Norwegian town of Honefoss, the EHL’s Ringerike Panthers hosted an open WGIHW event that welcomed players of all ages. Players from the club’s women’s team supported the festivities as 35 youngsters worked on their skating, negotiated obstacle courses, and improved their shooting skills. Certificates of achievement, a little “ice disco,” and ice cream capped the event off in style.

Serbia: Novi Sad

Out of the mouths of babes. According to Nemanja Jankovic, the Serbian Ice Hockey Association’s Sports Director, World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend inspired some ambitious goals at HK Vojvodina’s event at Hockey Rink Spens.

“One of our youngest participants said we should do this event every week and ultimately participate in the IIHF World Championships against countries such as the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden,” Jankovic said.

Serbia, currently sitting 42nd in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking, continues to make progress. The 20 girls aged eight to 12 who got a better grasp on hockey’s basics in the nation’s second-biggest city may make their mark in the future.

Norway: Trondheim

At Rosenborg IHK’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event, 35 participants aged six to 11 came out to enjoy a combination of unstructured play and training stations at the Leangen Arena. Goodie bags were handed out to send everyone home happy.

“For our organization, it was a great day and another chance to be on the ice together,” said coach Kristian Osmundsen.

Mongolia - Mergen Hockey Academy

Mongolia's only hockey academy, Mergen Hockey Academy, celebrate their fourth World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend this weekend by welcoming 20 new girls for tryouts. The weekend has encouraged a greater partnership between the hockey school and School Number 3 in UB Mongolia, with the goal of raising the number of girls interested in playing ice hockey.

Switzerland - Davos

Davos - one of the most prolific cities in Swiss professional hockey - welcomed 19 girls on Saturday with the help of Frauen Eishockey Leistungszentrum Ostschweiz. A 30-minute off-ice practice combined with a full hour on the ice helped prepare the 6-12 year olds for the next step in their hockey journeys. 

Romania - ACS, Kiralypingvinek - Saint George

World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend may only be a single weekend a year, but Romania used this weekend to start building the foundation for a future women's team in Covasna County, where they hope to eventually have a team to compete in the Romanian Women's Championship. 

Their weekend of events included girls from the U11-U15 level, who played a game against the equivalent boys' team. Already, five girls from Covasna County participated, showing a strong future for a women's team in the region. 

Finland - KJT and Saipa

Two locations bookended Finland's participation in World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend - KJT and Saipa. A total of 52 partipants joined the festivities, including first-timers, parents and grandparents! In Saipa, equipment was made available to participants to reduce the barrier for entry. 

While each partipants left with a new appreciation and understanding of the game, it was the parents who were left even more impressed. With the parents on board to support their girls, both clubs are confident they'll see more growth in their girls and women's program. 

Slovakia - Bratislava and Michalovce

Slovakia's impressive performance at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship in January spawn a new generation of girls looking to lace up their skates and be the next Nela Lopušanová. In Bratislava, 17 girls ages 4-10 had the chance to meet players from the women's national team and participate in drills that will help with their reaction time, speed and agility. In Michalovce, 52 girls ages 4-10 years old hit the ice. 

"What was amazing was that there was one participant who came there that did not know how to skate at all. By the end of the event she was flying through the stations."

Estonia: Viljandi Hokiklubi and Tallin

While hockey in Estonia is a way of life just like in larger countries, it's women's participation is still growing. For their World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend event, Viljandi Hokiklubi welcomed 15 women from ages 15 to 44 to lace up their skates and take on a practice. 

From skills sessions to 3v3, participants learned valuable skills, with two participants saying they'll return to the next practice. 

Over in Tallin, 30 participants ranging from 4-50 years old were provided with gear in order to give them an equal opportunity to participate. The event was supported by three local women's club teams and was an important moment to connect the ice hockey family. 

Slovakia: Ruzomberok

“Joy, enthusiasm, positive emotions.” That’s how head coach Patrik Oravec summed up the vibe at the WGIHW event that his club, MHK Ruzomberok, coordinated in partnership with the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.

After the 20 participants – born between 2012 and 2018 – picked up their jerseys at registration, they spent an hour on the ice with professional trainers, improving their skating, playing hockey, and enjoying other games.

Australia: Adelaide

Cricket, Aussie rules football, and basketball are just a few of the sports typically associated with Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend provided a fun and exciting change of pace at the Ice Arena in Thebarton, an Adelaide suburb. Twelve participants aged nine to 47 came out to give hockey a go.

Skating instruction, skills station, and a small-area game were part of the hour-and-a-half-long on-ice session. A group photo followed.

Candice Mitchell, the Women’s Director for Ice Hockey South Australia, was excited by the recruitment possibilities: “This event is great in launching our beginner hockey sessions. It’s well-timed for players to start their hockey journey in our beginner hockey leagues and/or get ready for participation in the winter season.”

Norway: Haugesund

Youth sports coordinator Tore Lund summed up the fun of the Haugesund Seagulls’ WGIHW event concisely:

“The event started at 17:00 and ended at 19:00. We chose to have an open day for all girls, both new participants and female hockey players already in the club. Forty players attended.”

“We are a small ice hockey club and were pleased to see many new girls visit us that evening. They were warmly welcomed by our female instructors, and those who didn’t have equipment of their own were able to borrow it for free from the club. We divided them into different groups based on their skill levels. Toward the end of the session, we dimmed the lights and transformed the hockey rink into a disco.”

“After they were finished, we had a closing gathering in the club’s cafe with waffles and other refreshments. A small group of girls came and said this weekend was the highlight of the year, and that they were already looking forward to the next time this opportunity arises.”

Czechia: Vyškov

The South Moravian city of Vyskov stepped up to support girls’ hockey with a four-hour WGIHW event at the local arena. The 20 participants ranged from about ages eight to 11.

The Through Generations program, which is dedicated to building hockey for girls in this country, offered warm-up games, followed by everything from basic skills development to “biathlon on ice.” Next were cross-ice 3-on-3 games and a full-ice game, followed by a Q&A session for parents.

Program founder Jakub Peslar said he was happy to run the event in light of the limited development opportunities for Czech girls, which can oblige them to pursue this sport abroad. As an additional bonus, former national team captain Alena Mills made an appearance by video call.

Slovakia: Martin

In this city of 54,000 in northern Slovakia, MHK Martin organized a fun WGIHW event with 15 participants aged four to 11. Once they completed an off-ice warm-up and got their equipment on, it was time to hit the Zimny Stadion rink and really get into the hockey spirit.

“The on-ice training included a fun warm-up, which involved pulling a teammate with a stick, as well as power skating, working with the puck, competitions including crawling under teammates, and scrimmages with trainers,” said MHK Martin president Vladimir Polakovic. “The training concluded with thanks from the coaches of the MHK Martin club and shouts. After the ice time, the girls received a diploma with their name written on it and a bag with gifts inside.”

Belgium: Ghent

Talk about goalie love! A whopping nine goalies – out of a total of 42 participants aged U8 to 20-plus –  showed up for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event staged by the Ghent Dragons. The up-and-coming netminders got their own on-ice station for training by the likes of ex-Belgium national team goalie Isis D’hossche.

The other girls enjoyed instruction from U18 national team players at the Kristallijn ice rink, followed by 3-on-3 cross-ice games.

“As always, our girls’ events are very well-received,” said Tina Moons of the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation. “Many young girls play ice hockey with the boys, and for them it is a nice change to be on ice with only girls. It is also always nice to see cross-club friendships develop between the girls.”

Belgium is an emerging women’s hockey nation with 151 registered female players and 14 indoor rinks. It relaunched its women’s hockey league this season.

Slovakia: Zvolen

The Zvolen women’s hockey team is truly dedicated to building a youth movement. Their 90-minute on-ice session featured 15 participants from as young as one year old to age 13. The girls were split up into three age groups (1-5, 6-8, 9-13), with everything from a learn-to-skate station to an obstacle course.

“The girls were wonderful and cheerful!” said head coach David Sprusansky. “Many didn't want to get off the ice. The parents watched and were amused by the various merry falls of their children. Our club aimed to organize this event so that the girls would have fun and learn about hockey. We believe we succeeded. Many parents inquired about training opportunities at our club.”

Diplomas and sweet treats rounded out a fun WGIHW event.

Norway: Halden

IHK Comet Halden made some magical memories for the 26 girls aged five to 12 who got their WGIHW fix in this town south of Oslo near the Swedish border.

“We had an hour and a half of ice skating for all the girls,” said Bethina Engebretsen, who oversees girls’ hockey for IHK Comet. “The club outfitted them with equipment free of charge. We had activities on the ice that suited the girls’ varying levels. Then we got off the ice and ate pizza, followed by some games with mixed ages. It was a very nice day. Just pure girl power!”

Romania: Miercurea Ciuc

Sport Klub Csikszereda was founded in 1929 and forged a dominant tradition in men’s hockey with 17 Romanian Hockey League titles to date. Today, it’s also working to elevate women’s hockey.

At the Vakar Lajos Ice Rink, close to 50 participants ranging in age from seven to 45 came out to enjoy the club’s WGIHW event.

From on-ice training with skating, shooting, and balloon-collecting drills to a wrap-up party with tea, cake, and commemorative diplomas, it was an afternoon to remember.

“We hope we’ve made a positive first impression on the young girls who attended, and we can attract them to join our club’s activities,” said Andras Varga, head coach of the Csikszerda girls’ team. “I hope parents understand now that ice hockey is not a dangerous sport, and it is a fun sport!”

Slovakia: Levoca

Small-area games and “funny skating” were just some of the on-ice activities that delighted the 26 young girls at the WGIHW event at Levoca’s Zimny Stadion.

“The girls’ parents were happy that we made a good event, and the reaction of the spectators was amazing,” said Michal Zoricak, the head coach of HK Spic Indians Levoca, which ran the event in partnership with the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. “It's a good advertisement for hockey to attract more girls to our organization.”

Bulgaria: Sofia

Stefani Stoyanova does triple duty as the captain of the Bulgarian women’s national team, the head coach of the U18 women’s national team, and a Bulgarian Ice Hockey Federation board member. 

The 30-year-old defender hopes and expects to be even busier in the future, based on the enthusiastic response to the latest WGIHW event at Sofia’s Slavia Ice Rink. National team players helped run the skating drills and cross-ice game.

“Compared to previous years, this year the girls [aged five to 12] came with a clear idea of who they want to be on a team with,” Stoyanova said. “The first question I received before entering the ice was, ‘Are you the U18 national coach? When can I join that team?’ They were humble, they were excited, and they showed it by skating their best way. I can’t wait to see them growing up and take the lead in hockey in our country!”

Romania: Otopeni

Club CSS Triumf Bucuresti and the Allianz-Țiriac Arena Ice Rink collaborated on a successful WGIHW event in this town of 22,000 near the Romanian capital of Bucharest. It attracted 37 participants up to the age of 15.

"All participants arrived at 0:900 at the rink," explained Triumf coach Daniel Zlate. "Everyone was eager and ready to get on the ice at 9:30 for an hour and a half of hockey fun. The ice was divided into workshops conducted by 5 coaches. There were power skating drills, puckhandling drills, practice games, and fun with pink balloons. The parents brought sweet and salty snacks, and everyone had a wonderful time."

Belarus: Minsk

A two-hour WGIHW session at Minsk Arena saw 70 girls aged six to 10 taking part in on-ice drills. Mascots, elite women’s and men’s players, and coaches supported the event.

“I have dreamt of skating on the ice and trying out ice hockey for a long time, and I’m happy I’m finally here today,” said nine-year-old Agniya Yurkoit. “I think I’m quite good at performing the tasks that the coaches give. The hardest for me is to fall down and get up again. The equipment is certainly very heavy. We all are taller and bigger in it! It was quite difficult, but cool to put on professional equipment.”

Slovakia: Spisska Nova Ves

The influence of World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend goes way beyond a couple of days each year. For proof, just ask Barbora Kezmarska, the head coach of HC Osy Spisska Nova Ves.

“Fifteen girls from the Osy team welcomed 48 invitees between the ages of two and 11,” said Kezmarska. “And most of our girls from the team were invited attendees over the last three years we held this [WGIHW] event.”

Five on-ice stations blended skating and shooting instructions with games involving balloons and hide-and-go-seek. Snacks, gifts, and certificates of achievement for the participants wrapped up the fun.

“The parents were impressed by how the event was organized,” Kezmarska added. “All the girls enjoyed the ice session, including our team. Smiles and sweaty faces were all around. The local TV station Reduta filmed some footage, too.”

Iceland: Reykjavik

If you enjoy hot cocoa and kleinur (Icelandic doughnuts), then you likely would have found the WGIHW event hosted by Skautafelag Reykjavikur a rewarding experience.

That was the treat that awaited the 60 participants (ages three to 15) at Laugardalur Ice Rink after trying out hockey drills that involved skating, puckhandling, and completing an obstacle course before shooting on a goalie.

“We celebrated World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend for the first time in 2018, when we had 15 participants,” said Bjarni Helgason, who heads up the youth program. “Since then, our club has increased girls in the youth program from five up to 40. We re-established our women’s team in 2020, which is now in its fourth season.”

Mexico: Mexico City

This year’s WGIHW event, organized by the Pinguinos club and the Mexico Ice Hockey Federation, attracted 30 girls from ages five to 15. It took place at the ISK8 Rink, located at the Paseo Interlomas shopping centre at Estado de Mexico.

A combination of fun activities for participants just learning to skate and enjoyable drills for somewhat more experienced players made it a great recruiting opportunity.

“Girls’ hockey in Mexico really started three years ago,” said Monica Trejo, President of the Girls Hockey League Mexico. “This is now the fourth consecutive year I'm running the program, and it’s amazing how all the girls know each other, play, and laugh. When we go to any rink, it’s like family. They are all so happy to skate and play together.”

Great Britain: Nottingham

Nottingham, world-famous as the home of Robin Hood, has also hit the bulls-eye in international hockey recently. The Midlands city staged the Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Prequalification Group F in 2021 – as well as the 2023 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A tournament at which the host British were promoted for 2024 in Czechia.

This strong tradition continued with the latest World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event. The Nottingham Vipers women’s team hosted it at the National Ice Centre in partnership with Ice Hockey UK. Twenty-five aspiring players came out, aged six to 41.

Vipers coaches and players helped them work on basic skills and then play a cross-ice game. Finally, the newcomers watched the Vipers battle to a 4-4 tie with the visiting Solway Sharks.

“It was great to see the girls on the ice, trying hockey for the first time,” said Vipers coach Ryan Rathbone. “There were lots of smiles, and everyone left the ice excited for the game in the afternoon. It’s a way to help increase participation, ensuring the sustainability of our club both financially and competitively. And it raises awareness of female hockey and the opportunity to take to the ice in a fun and safe environment.”

Lebanon: Ottawa, Canada

The Lebanese Ice Hockey Federation (LIHF) is committed to learning on a global scale and helping girls of Lebanese descent embrace this great game. Founded in 2018 and awarded IIHF associate membership in 2019, the LIHF has headquarters in Montreal, Canada and bases its youth operations in Beirut. This year, it put on a WGIHW event in Ottawa at Pinecrest Arena.

The 10 participants ranged from age eight to adulthood. It was a fun family event with lots of parents and siblings on hand.

“We were able to book some ice Friday after school, and we advertised on social media and through friends and family and word of mouth,” said national team manager Erin Tabah. “Five players from our national team ran drills appropriate for all skill levels. We played a short scrimmage at the end.”

Once the first ice rink is built in Lebanon, the LIHF hopes to stage future WGIHW events there.

Philippines: Pasay City

Georgie Ann Regencia, a Hockey Philippines “Learn to Play” instructor and Women’s Team Pool member, was overjoyed to coordinate the WGIHW event in this Southeast Asian nation of 114 million people. At the Mall of Asia SM Skating Rink, 15 Women’s Team Pool volunteers showed up to help out the 45 participants (ages four to 42).

“The World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend left everyone buzzing with excitement!” Regencia said. “Participants couldn't get enough of the thrilling off and on-ice activities, and many wished they could have extended their time on the rink – a clear sign of how much fun they were having. Parents were equally captivated as they saw their children’s eyes light up with the joy of ice hockey.”

The event ran from 18:30 to 21:45. In addition to on-ice training for age-segregated groups (including skill sessions, races, and hockey-themed games of Simon Says), there were colourful off-ice activities (including hula hooping and rock, paper scissors). Even some local figure skaters popped in to join the fun.

According to Regencia, the benefits included raising interest in ice hockey, expanding the hockey community, and empowering women and girls.

Slovakia: Cana

When your WGIHW event includes cameos from 2010 Olympian Petra Jurcova, former national team player Edita Slaucova, and Olaf the snowman of Frozen, odds are good that everyone will have a blast. That's what happened at the Ice Arena of Cana, where about 35 participants aged four to 10 enjoyed being hosted by Ice Dream, the local women's hockey team (which relocated from nearby Kosice to Cana for 2023-24).

After being helped to suit up, the girls went around the rink collecting points for completing different activities at stations. Skating instructions, football with a fitness ball, and basic hockey skills were on the menu. Participants got colourful balloons to play with on the ice, as well as diplomas sporting their names and gift bags.

"People appreciated the fact that our event was longer than in previous years," said Ice Dream manager Eva Molekova. "It lasted two hours instead of just one. Having music playing in the background was a well-received addition. Our players and club members were thrilled about interacting with the younger generation. We're optimistic that some participants will join our skating courses and, eventually, our mixed U10 team, which we're forming in collaboration with the Ice Arena of Cana."

Netherlands: Amsterdam

The Dutch capital hosted the official kick-off of the Bauer Girls Tour. This recruitment campaign is geared to grow girls’ hockey across the Netherlands with events leading up to the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in January.

At the Jaap Eden Ice Rink, Dutch hockey great Ron Berteling – a 1980 Olympian and longtime national team captain – tutored 20 participants aged six to 16 during an hour-long skating and skills practice session.

The response? “Smiles from ear to ear, but really, that's not surprising,” said Jenny Goessens, the chief of girls’ events with IJs Nederland. “When you see Ron Berteling training and teaching little girls how to skate, as someone with 35 years of experience, that still makes me smile.”

“We hope to add new members at each event,” Goessens added. “Also, everyone who participates in the Bauer Girls Tour will get free admission to a U18 game in Heerenveen in January.”

Ukraine: Kyiv

Ukraine has endured many difficult and tragic months during the current war, but World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend brought a ray of light in the capital city of Kyiv.

"Our event took place at the Palace of Sports," said Yulia Dobrovolska, the marketing manager of the Ice Hockey Association of Ukraine. "It was organized with the support of the coaches and players of the national women's team. Head coach Evgeniy Alipov and coach Alexander Nikulichev were involved in the celebration. Athletes Tatyana Kirichenko, Helen and Elizabeth Alipov, and Angelina Mayfeld also joined the event."

More than 50 girls and women between the ages of two and 41 took part in the event. Most of them were picking up a hockey stick for the first time.

The ice was split into five zones, with one zone reserved for beginner skaters. There were skating drills, relay races, and various games. Everyone who came out got an "I Love Hockey" T-shirt.

"Everyone was very happy, with positive emotions," said Dobrovolska. "There were many people who wanted to play hockey professionally."

There was also a celebrity cameo. Victoria Apanasenko, who represented Ukraine in the Miss Universe 2022 competition, came by to show her support. She received a commemorative national team jersey from Georgy Zubko, the President of the Ice Hockey Association of Ukraine.

Iran: Tehran

A two-day WGIHW event in the Iranian capital helped newcomers to embrace the sport of women's hockey. More experienced players were invited to bring a friend along to the event, which featured two sessions per day. Teams played 3-on-3 games, half on the ice and half off-ice, to enable novice skaters to participate more fully.

"Our aim was to encourage more families to participate in the event, to potentially discover new talents, and to test our recruitment ability as well," said Omid Gharachorlou, the Sport Director of the Iran Ice Hockey Association. "The event was truly vibrant and full of enthusiasm."

Home to six indoor rinks and 103 registered female players, Iran has been an IIHF MNA (Member National Association) since 2019.

Chinese Taipei: Taipei

Did you know that the Chinese Taipei women’s national team won back-to-back titles at the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Women’s Challenge Club of Asia? Today, the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation – currently marking its 40th anniversary – is hoping to inspire a new generation of female hockey players.

Ice time can be hard to come by in Taipei. The WGIHW event staged on 18 October at the Taipei Arena wrapped up at 23:00 – well past the usual bedtime for the 10 girls ages three to eight who took part. They were supported by U18 players who helped them get their gear on and played some on-ice games.

“It was the first time on skates for most of them, so the activities consisted mainly of falling and getting up again,” said Andrew Yin, who handles international affairs for the federation. “And they were quite sleepy by the time we were done. But lots of smiles too! This event helped more kids to experience the fun of hockey, showing that girls can play too.”

Slovakia: Banska Bystrica

For World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, the Barani youth hockey academy – established by former IIHF and NHL star Michal Handzus – hosted 46 girls aged four to 10 at the Tipsport Arena.

Barani project organizer Michaela Dvorska described the activities: “Our event ran from 18:00 to 20:00, with participants arriving half an hour beforehand. In the dressing room, we informed them about everything we were going to do. On the ice, they were divided into six groups. Our coaches took care of them while they were enjoying skating practice, shooting at the goal, collecting pucks from the ice, and playing various games. Also, the parents and the head coach completed a workshop to learn more about our club’s vision and the trends in girls’ hockey.”

Creating heightened awareness and enthusiasm, WGIHW is expected to bring more local girls into the Slovak hockey fold.

Turkey: Istanbul

Close to 50 girls aged five to 15 honed their hockey skills at a well-received World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event at Zentinburnu Ice Arena in Istanbul.

After getting suited up, the girls got on-ice instruction from Turkish national team players. They played some fun games together, took photos, and received autographed national team jerseys. The excitement was palpable.

“There was a two-year-old girl who attended the event,” said Eray Atali, sport director of the Turkish Ice Hockey Federation. “She didn’t step on the ice herself, but she's already a fan of ice hockey! Also, some boys were asking to join this great event, but we explained that today is the girls’ day.”

Netherlands: Heerenveen

Women’s hockey supporters in the Netherlands are excited to have the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A on their turf (15-21 January).

Heerenveen, the host venue, enthusiastically staged two WGIHW events.

One event attracted 156 participants aged nine to 47, in addition to 16 coaches, six referees, and 30 volunteers. Ten aspiring players came from neighbouring Belgium and two Dutch girls who play in Norway also attended.

An eight-team tournament took place, followed by a pizza party and sleepover in a big sports hall.

In addition, trophies named after Dutch women’s hockey pioneer Ilse Robben – a former national team stalwart and linesperson at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics – were handed out. The talent award went to Emma Steeland, a 10-year-old Geleen native, while the lifetime achievement award honoured Bianca Schipper, who has done it all for IJs Nederland in a 37-year playing and officiating career.

The second event saw national team players Roos Karst, Iris Van Houten and Esther de Jong tutoring a group of 25 participants, 21 of whom were completely new to hockey. Mandy Goojier, who heads up women's hockey in this country, was excited to see the potential for growth.

Kuwait: Kuwait City

With 10 women’s national team players on hand, a successful World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event took place at the Kuwait Winter Games Club rink in Kuwait City. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 30. Puck control and passing drills, as well as some fun games, were on the menu.

The Gulf State also hosted the first IIHF Women’s Development Cup in 2022. This event was another important building block.

“We really like this kind of event, as it encourages more people to join the club,” said assistant development manager Mariam Alkhars. “Everyone had so much fun. Many parents would like to take part in the next event.”
WGIHW 2023 - Photos