A new hockey association has formed out of the East Kootenay region that focuses on getting girls into the game.
The East Kootenay Female Hockey Association recently formed after a growing need for a program was identified.
Jackie Myson-Armstrong represents the association. She explained that BC Hockey has created a sub-committee to focus on female hockey growth.
“We predominantly noticed that in our rural areas our numbers haven’t improved and consistently drop off in the older age groups,” Myson-Armstrong said. “However, in more urban areas, the B.C. coast for example, female numbers are stronger where they have all female teams.”
Myson-Armstrong says the goal is to grow a female hockey program for the 2021/22 season.
“Reaching out to all our female directors, it was apparent that they were just as passionate as I was to grow a female program here, and they have stepped up to create this opportunity for our girls,” Myson-Armstrong said.
Local Minor Hockey Associations (MHAs) will have to join together in order to build a substantial program, which Myson-Armstrong says there is a decent amount of support for.
“Every MHA has a female director, they have stepped up and are now a member of our female hockey group. Together we have discussed merging our numbers to form female teams,” Myson-Armstrong said. “These teams would be hosted by the different MHAs; whoever is willing to step up and do so. Nothing has been finalized, but certain MHAs have stated they could support one or two teams with ice times and certified team staff.”
She gave an example of how that would work: girls in the U9 age category could join together and play in one town, while girls in the U11 category could join together and play out of another town. This would mean travelling one or two nights per week to practice together.
“If all the girls [who are] currently registered committed to our female group, we could actually have a team in each category from U9 all the way up to U18 (formerly known as novice to midget),” explained Myson-Armstrong. “If the numbers were strong, we could have two teams. Our goal would be to do that wherever possible to allow for the best development opportunity for our girls. If we are able to start now, girls will know there is a team for them to play on next year, and each year moving forward.”
Currently there are female directors in Invermere, Golden, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Creston, Sparwood and Fernie. Myson-Armstrong says the best way to get involved is to reach out to your local MHA and speak with the female director.
“If you’re hoping your age group could be hosted within your community, please let them know. We’re still very early in the planning stages,” Myson-Armstrong said. “They will have the information on registration and what is needed for team staff and volunteers. Registration will be taking place in May/June 2021.”
The EK Female Hockey Association also hopes to host an all-female camp over a weekend during the spring. This would give organizers a better idea on where interest lies within the community for each category, and where they need to develop their plans further.
“This would be a chance for girls to meet potential coaches and other players, and to hear more about the goals for the 21/22 season,” Myson-Armstrong said.
The group has formed a Facebook page and they are currently seeking input on team names and logos. Myson-Armstrong says they are looking for something that identifies the group as a strong female program. You can give input through the Facebook page, and also by contacting your local MHA.
“Right now we are trying to get the word out there that we are working on building this female program for all East Kootenay female players,” Myson-Armstrong adds. “We are asking for support from community members and businesses to purchase game jerseys for each age group/team once we establish our identity. We are so grateful for all the support we have received so far.”
Myson-Armstrong says that anyone with questions or concerns can speak with her. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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