The 2016 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend saw more events than ever in the country, with youngsters taking to the ice in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Erasmia and Amanzimtoti. New rinks and new teams are helping to develop the game in one of its remotest outposts.
Port Elizabeth Ladies Ice Hockey is a team so new it doesn’t even have a full name yet. “We’re still thinking of something a bit more exciting,” admitted Carine van Eck, secretary of the Eastern Province Ice Hockey Association. But when the city got its first rink for 16 years early in 2015, old-time hockey fans rallied to start rebuilding the game from scratch. Most of the players from the previous arena had grown up and reached veteran age, but many have returned to the ice to encourage a new generation to take up the sport.
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was a big step towards that. “Saturday morning was awesome! We had 43 brand-new girls who had never played the game before,” van Eck added. “Some of them had never even been on the ice, but we had others who were already good skaters. We even invited one to join our senior women’s team.
“We’re very grateful that so many people came – we got about twice as many as we were hoping for. Now we’ll try to do something similar for our boys’ team. They’re a bit jealous that the girls are getting so much attention this weekend, but hopefully our new recruits will bring their brothers along as well.”
The fledgling women’s team is the only one in its league, playing non-contact hockey against men’s teams in the second division of Port Elizabeth’s local league. But it has already enjoyed some success, with several players joining up to represent Eastern Province in South Africa’ national Inter-Provincial Championship last month. “We’re quite proud that we’ve managed to get a team representing our province in just a year,” van Eck said……
Read More Here: Boosting hockey down south
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