Since last year, the number of female players at Nottingham Ice Hockey Club has seen a rise of over 50%. Girls and ladies now account for more than 15% of the Club’s total membership.
Membership Secretary, Chris Keal, explained “There is still work to be done, but a massive amount of time has gone into revitalising our female programme. Much of the interest in playing ice hockey is generated from families attending Elite League and National League games. Our city has also been fortunate enough to experience Champions Hockey League games, which raises the profile yet another notch. Girls are just as inspired to play ice hockey as boys.”
The Club has an Under 16s girls’ team, now in its second season, and its ladies’ adult team, the Nottingham Vipers, has been totally transformed. Last season the Vipers struggled for players and finished with just one win. This Christmas they will sit proudly at the top of the Womens Premier League, the UK’s second tier.
One member of the Vipers team arrived in the summer from the Czech Republic and chose to study in Nottingham, simply because of its reputation for ice hockey!
Ryan Rathbone, Club Development Officer, told us “Doing well in the League is a bonus, but the biggest satisfaction is increasing female numbers and the profile of the women’s game in the UK. We now have girls and ladies playing across a wide range of ages and this bodes really well for the future. It is not only important for our Club, but really important for GB Women’s Ice Hockey. We need to get more players into the sport and preferably from an early age”.
Across the UK, many female players also compete in mixed gender leagues (junior and senior), which are traditionally based around male players. Two junior Vipers’ girls, aged just 16, recently debuted in the demanding U20s league.
A look around the fixtures’ statistics shows that more and more young women are choosing to continue with both women’s ice hockey and mixed gender Leagues, even at older age categories and senior level.
Not only is this benefiting the women’s game by developing stronger players, it is helping the sport to grow and sustain playing numbers, particularly at ages where work commitments can start to affect availability.
At Nottingham IHC, we aim to play our part in all areas of ice hockey development.
If you are reading this article and wondering whether you (or your child) might be the next star of womens’ ice hockey – GET IN TOUCH because you just never know!
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