THE City of Surrey and the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (Canadian Tire WickFest) will hold an exhibition hockey game between India’s National Female Hockey team and the Surrey Falcons.
After years of hard work on and off the ice, and thanks to special invitation from six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, the players from Ladakh, India, will arrive in Canada for the first time. The team, who overcame strong societal and familial pressures in an effort to grow the game of women’s ice hockey in India, will compete in the ninth annual Canadian Tire WickFest.
Before heading to Calgary, the team’s first stop is in Surrey, where they will play an exhibition game at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex – Arena at 16555 Fraser Highway.
Canadian Tire WickFest is one of the largest and most celebrated female hockey tournaments in the world. After nine successful years in Calgary, the festival is also coming to Surrey from January 31 to February 3, 2019.
A young woman in Ladakh, India … had a cousin who had learned to play hockey (his own story would be quite interesting, in itself). He visited his cousin in Ladakh and when Noor Jahan saw him skate she was more than a little intrigued. She convinced him to leave behind a pair of his hand-me-down skates.
Against her parent’s wishes, who felt she should be in the home taking care of her family and studying for school, Noor found herself hearing the sharp cut of the ice, the cold wind against her face and [being] drawn to the deep ring of the puck hitting the metal of the net. Noor fought through the laughter and mocking of her peers, particularly the young men and boys, in her community and took to the ice over and over again.
Soon, other young girls around her took notice and began to join Noor for those early mornings. The girls began a routine of creating and maintaiing a rink in their mountain village. Shifts started at 8 p.m. Pour water. Wait for it to freeze. Brush the snow. Repeat. 10 p.m. again. 3 a.m. again. 6 a.m. again. The girls took shifts.
They taught each other not just to skate, but to play the game of hockey. They took hand-me-down equipment from brothers and cousins who were in the cities playing, but most off all – they persevered. The broke down barrier after barrier.
Fast forward years later. Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser stumbles upon a video about these young women. Hayley is inspired and connected to their story. So are many other strong-willed and highly motivated women (and men) from Western Canada who are determined to:
1. Bring these young women to Canada to learn the game from the best-of-the-best in the world at WickFest;
2. Send coaches and equipment to Ladakh to help these women continue to grow the game in their community and mentor the next generation.
The India2YYC Initiative is born.