Mar 21, 2011 | Jarid Peterson | 2364 views
Out of the Shadows, Girls take the first step
Hockey Canada has now begun to set off alarm bells after a second consecutive year in dropping enrolment. In 2008 there were roughly 584,000 canadians playing hockey, that number for this year could drop as low as 564,000.
However the growing trend of young women playing hockey continues to grow in this country despite low exposure rates.
The first International Women's tournament was held in Ottawa in 1990, at the time there were 8,146 women signed up for hockey nation wide. That single event led to a 39% increase in the following years enrolment. Now in 2010/2011, just twenty years later, there are more than 85,000 women and girls playing the sport in and for this country.
Then came the 1998 olympics which saw Women's Ice Hockey compete as a medal event. The year after that there was another 30% increase in women hitting the ice. In fact, in the last 10 years women have accounted for 58% of the increase to overall enrolment or 42,000 of the 72,000 new players.
Girls have brought the same passion and determination to compete that was previously only available to their male counterparts. Today's female hockey players play with a high degree of talent and pride, such speed and excitement, yet for the most part the stands remain barren.
Having had the opportunity in the previous few weeks to attend both a CIS Women's Championship game as well as a PWHL KW Lady Ranger playoff game, I was taken by the level of skill and development of each and every player. The unfortunate part to all of this is that I had to search out women's hockey in the area as there is little to no advertising for the events, which to my benefit meant ticket costs were low or non existent as well there would be no over indulging at the arena as for the most part concession stands remained closed. However with the economy in it's current state, what a great way to see some terrific hockey with the family and keep well within the family entertainment budget. So gracious even were the players of the KW Lady Rangers that they took time immediately after a heartbreaking loss to meet with my own seven year old budding female hockey daughter, speaking to her directly and signing autographs. This is a perfect role model, young women who are active in sports, active in their community, and working hard at furthering their post secondary education using their sport as a jumping point.
2010 saw for the very first time, two women were added to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Canadian Angela Jones and American Cammi Granato have both forever solidified their fight for equality. Now there is also two new professional leagues for women, the CWHL and the WWHL, neither league is able to pay their players but has just finally reached an agreement to help supply them with new equipment. This creates the opportunity for Canadian Women to continue playing hockey at a highly competitive level. As well, south of the border, Colleges and Universities continue to barter for more Canadian Girls to come play hockey with full scholarships as each of these facilities has had a giant push on funding for the sport.
Therefore as the girls continue to play this sport for the passion and pride, they could use more community and country involvement in bringing awareness to its endless opportunities and its rich personal rewards. With all of the controversy surrounding some hockey leagues right now due to injuries and rule changes would it not just be nice to sit back and enjoy The Game as it was meant to be played, with skill and passion and for the Love the The Game. Please help continued support for your local girls hockey and the amazing athletes that love The Game.